BILL "THE TRIGGERMAN" KALUSH

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Magic Newswire » 01/21/09 06:40 PM

The Executive Director of the Conjuring arts Research Center, Bill Kalush joined us for a chat on the most recent episode of the Magic Newswire Podcast. Bill was most recently seen pulling the trigger on the rifle in Blaine's Bullet Catch during Dive of Death. Bill is also the co-author of "The Secret Life of Houdini : America's First Super Hero." Very interesting interview READ MORE
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Postby Eric DeCamps » 01/22/09 04:54 PM

[font:Book Antiqua][size:11pt]Hi Dodd:

I listened to the interview earlier today. Bill did a great job.
I also listened to the Jim Steinmeyer interview, I enjoyed that one tremendously too.

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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/22/09 06:44 PM

Thanks Eric!
I always enjoy doing them and it's great to get such positive feedback!
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/23/09 12:19 AM

Very interesting interview, Mr. Vickers.

As I collect many things other than magic. One of my favorites is firearms and I was once considered and expert shot.

The next time Mr. Blaine proposes to catch a bullet for a television audience I would like to offer my services as a sharpshooter and the use of my Winchester .458 Magnum to provide the fellow with a real bullet to catch.

Absolutely no charge and my services needn't be credited.

Just a magician, ready and willing, to help another magician.

BTW - The ,22 caliber match rifle that was used was real enough, but the particular cartridge fired required no gaffing as it was an unusual, but standard, load that would have not harmed him unless it hit soft tissue like an eyeball.

The rifle was fitted with a Redfield telescopic sight and the entire weapon was mounted in a jig and then bagged. The rifle was pre-sighted to hit the metal cup even if a monkey squeezed the trigger provided Blaine was on his tape marks and didn't flinch.

This is not meant to cast aspersions on his trick as there is always the unknown factor(s) to contend with in this type of exhibition.

Chung Ling Soo took a .48 caliber musket ball where he breathed, shot from a completely gimmicked percussion firearm.


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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/23/09 11:14 AM

Ray T. Stott wrote:- The ,22 caliber match rifle that was used was real enough, but the particular cartridge fired required no gaffing as it was an unusual, but standard, load that would have not harmed him unless it hit soft tissue like an eyeball.

The rifle was fitted with a Redfield telescopic sight and the entire weapon was mounted in a jig and then bagged. The rifle was pre-sighted to hit the metal cup even if a monkey squeezed the trigger provided Blaine was on his tape marks and didn't flinch.

This is not meant to cast aspersions on his trick as there is always the unknown factor(s) to contend with in this type of exhibition.

Chung Ling Soo took a .48 caliber musket ball where he breathed, shot from a completely gimmicked percussion firearm.




Thanks Ray,

I too was aware of this having qualified expert with a number of weapons and also having had the opportunity to work with a competitor on the Female US Olympic prone rifle team.

I still wouldn't have wanted to stand there... besides.. David makes it clear that "It is only an illusion." ;-)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/23/09 11:39 AM

Perhaps one of you will be more straightforward in what you're talking about: what about the bullet was not straightforward?
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/23/09 02:50 PM

I personally think that it was totally straightforward. . I was just giving a nod to Blaine's comment in the video regarding "Don't try this at home. This is an Illusion." I believe that Ray was commenting on the fact that once the rifle was set up and aligned, it could have been fired by anyone with the same end result, but I hesitate to speak for anyone else.

Carl Skenes consulted with David for the special and performed the exact same -- and verified -- true bullet catch on a number of occasions, including the television show "That's Incredible."

Have no doubt, a .22 can be a very dangerous round. Depending upon the specifics of the makeup of the round and the load behind it, the risk can be minimized, but .. as I said.. I would not have wanted to be the one standing there catching it in my mouth.

For what it is worth, many pellet and BB guns are .22 caliber as well. I only offer that as perspective with regard to the size of the round and its' composition.

The comparison to Chung Ling Soo missed the mark (forgive the pun) in my opinion as he was performing an illusion that went wrong as opposed to a true bullet catch.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/23/09 03:44 PM

This is what I meant: "but the particular cartridge fired required no gaffing as it was an unusual, but standard, load that would have not harmed him unless it hit soft tissue like an eyeball."
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/23/09 03:47 PM

I'd have to have more specifics on that. I don't know where Ray got his info, but a very light load on a soft projectile might accomplish what he implies.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/23/09 08:28 PM

The discussion on this has been interesting and made me curious to do a bit more research. In addition, further followup with Bill Kalush revealed additional details on the exact setup of the Catch of which I was previously unaware. I'm no "ballistician," but my experience and research made a few things obvious.

As I mentioned, there's no bullet I'd be willing to stand in front of without fear of grave injury, including a .22 round with a modified load or round. The .22 is used as a match round because of the fact that it is notorious for its' straight trajectory at short range. Once you start approaching 100 meters or more, you begin to see a signifiant drop . To be specific, the typical .22 round has a 69 mm rise at 50 yards . This increases to and 270 mm (approx 11 Inches) at 150 yards which is considered to be the maximum effective range for the round.

Why is that important? Well, if you begin fooling around with the load or round itself, you begin to enter an area in which it is virtually impossible to predict the results for each round in that they'll be almost as unique as a fingerprint. Factory produced rounds share common characteristics while hand loads exhibit common variances.

The one thing you want when you've sighted a rifle on a target that you're holding in your mouth is for it to shoot straight. Tamper with the round, and it might not.

According to Bill, what was used in the stunt was "right off the shelf from WalMart."
In addition, the "sandbagged tripod" was actually an "old pair of camera tripods which in no way could have been set up and been safe enough to just have David take his mark and fire. If we had set this up on a bench and locked it in it still would be extremely challenging to get David into the exactly right position."

Like I said... I'm glad it wasn't me standing there in David's place.

As far as someone volunteering to pull the trigger on a performer staging this type of true bullet catch, I wouldn't. More people are said to have been killed by a .22 than any other caliber.

I think this stunt was generally overlooked in the special, which is a shame given the risk involved in what was an truly death defying spectacle.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/23/09 08:45 PM

Whether or not a particular method for the bullet catch is "safe" is not going to be dependent on the accuracy of the load. Most of the people who have been hurt or killed performing the trick were the result of poor procedures -- left ram rods in the gun, allowed the spectator to have control over some process which should have been under the control of the magician, failure to switch out a gaffed round for a legit one, etc.

Anyone who hand loads ammunition can make ammunition accurate enough for the purposes of the trick (although it is unusual to see hand loaded .22 ammo, since it is a rimfire cartidge, not a centerfire), if they follow a consistent loading procedure. (and if they don't, then you don't want them anywhere near a gun anyhow).

Precision shooters (bench rest) typically load their own ammunition, because they can control the processes better than mass-produced factory rounds can be made. The most accurate ammunition is hand loaded.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/23/09 08:48 PM

Bill Mullins wrote:Precision shooters (bench rest) typically load their own ammunition, because they can control the processes better than mass-produced factory rounds can be made. The most accurate ammunition is hand loaded.


True.. I should have been more specific in that I was referring specifically to a .22 LR Rimfire and not a specifically tapered boat tail round. Snipers and competion shooters using higher calibers so indeed hand-load as do many skeet and trap champs.

Even the Prone shooters on the Olympic team that I knew used factory rounds, but they were manufactured specifically for them with higher tolerances than would be required for the typical "Walmart round."
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/24/09 05:22 PM

Hello Mr. Vickers,
Although Blaine makes the statement "This is a .22 caliber rifle and it shoots .22 caliber bullets" in the film clip provided there is never a shot of the shooter chambering the round.

In reply to RK's assertion that I , in someway intimated that the cartridge was not "straightforward" please reread my first posting again where I specifically state that I did not believe that the cartridge was gaffed.

The entire setting was dark with a lot of jerky camera moves (A la Peter Loughran demo videos) and being that we are dealing with magicians here it would have been a fairly simple matter to trick out a shooter's bench and place it on a camera tripod as a tripod has very stable inertial characteristics.

Second, the report made when the rifle is discharged is too low db to have been made with a .22 caliber long rifle cartridge.
When the projectile is caught in the metal cup it disintegrates into a hot powder and does not mushroom as it should have.

The mushroom quality of .22 caliber rounds is the very reason that the well placed .22 round is the cartridge of choice for mob hit men and assassins. A round that would shatter or pulverize upon impact is absolutely the worst choice that could be made.

In that, as Mr. Vickers points out, the .22 caliber is a rim fire cartridge rather than a center fire one, I do not believe that the slug was removed and the charge tampered with.

Based upon the slo-mo film of the slug traveling to its target it appears much too small to have been a .22 long rifle slug.

To sum up:
Cartridge never seen being chambered and no inspection of the round by an independent authority who goes on to actually chamber the round that is discharged.

The rifle report is too diminished to have resulted from the discharge of a .22 LR round from a non-silenced weapon.

I have used .22 CB rounds thousands of times for plinking and basement shooting and the report (basically just the primer going off - little or no gunpowder) - is very close to the sound heard in the film.

The slug disintegrates into powder-like fragments instead of mushrooming. This is the predicted end result of a .22 CB upon hard impact

Film of projectile in flight is too small to be a .22 LR slug.

In my personal opinion, the round chambered for the shot was a [color:#FF0000].22 CB[/color]. A photograph of a .22 CB is on the viewers left and proceed to a .22 Short and finally a .22 LR.

.22 CB rounds are cheap, easy to find, packaged in a tin instead of a box and, at least at one time, were exempt from ATF registration requirements, along with it's even smaller brother, the .22 BB round.

Image

A discussion of the above can be found here.



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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/24/09 05:34 PM

So, are you saying that there is a minimal amount of danger when a .22 cb is fired at someone?
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/24/09 06:00 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:So, are you saying that there is a minimal amount of danger when a .22 cb is fired at someone?


In that a .22 CB round is very low powered and the the amalgam used to make the slug is very soft, other than the even lower powered .22 BB round which could not have achieved the desired in flight and impact results, the .22 CB would be my preference to have fired at me but I would have no desire to participate in such an exercise.

As a kid I was shot many times with a .22 CB, they are lower powered than an air rifle, the result was a good sting that never penetrated my jeans.

Although not recommending being placed in the path of any projectile, whether it be a rock or an arrow, being shot in a non-soft tissue area by a .22 CB would pose the least threat of mortality.

Being a New Yorker I believe, the Sullivan Act likely kept you and your friends from playing "War" very often. :)
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/24/09 06:07 PM

The comparison to Chung Ling Soo missed the mark (forgive the pun) in my opinion as he was performing an illusion that went wrong as opposed to a true bullet catch.


Mr. Vickers,
Blaine went to great length to point out that he was performing an illusion - not really catching a bullet - so your point is moot in that respect.

The only difference being that one illusionist died while performing the bullet catch illusion and the other, to date, has not. :)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/24/09 08:22 PM

Yes, a New Yorker, but one who spent his summers at camp in the Catskills and shot a 22 rifle on many occasions as a camper. Later, when I was the archery instructor, between classes I frequently spent time shooting. All they had were 22s. The only shooting I do these days is at the Shooting Gallery in Tokyo Disneyland, where I always get a perfect 10 and a gift. :)
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Postby the Larry » 01/24/09 09:19 PM

A bullet fired
From a tripod rig
That makes me tired
Nauseous and sick

The bullet too weak
To harm a fly
Makes me want to weep
Loud and cry

What are we to expect
From such an illusion
I simply reject
Such play of delusion

This was lame
Typical Blaine
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/24/09 10:11 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Yes, a New Yorker, but one who spent his summers at camp in the Catskills and shot a 22 rifle on many occasions as a camper. Later, when I was the archery instructor, between classes I frequently spent time shooting. All they had were 22s. The only shooting I do these days is at the Shooting Gallery in Tokyo Disneyland, where I always get a perfect 10 and a gift. :)


Do shooting galleries still hand out those blow party ticklers as prizes?
:)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/24/09 10:18 PM

No, sheriff's badges with Pecos Goofy's picture on them :)
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/25/09 02:31 AM

I'm tired.
Well done to Blaine in my opinion.
Have fun Ray.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/25/09 04:53 PM

Ray T. Stott wrote:
Blaine went to great length to point out that he was performing an illusion - not really catching a bullet - so your point is moot in that respect.


I hate to say anything that would continue a conversation that bears no fruit in the context of promoting "The Spirit of Magic" which is the philosophy, behind my podcast. In spite of that, I have to say that if you believe that it was an "illusion" you may be sadly mistaken. It's my feeling that the network might require David to state that it was an illusion because of liability issues and not because it WAS an illusion. That may be why this stunt was widely overlooked on the show.
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/25/09 06:36 PM

In spite of that, I have to say that if you believe that it was an "illusion" you may be sadly mistaken.


I expressed no opinion as to whether it was an illusion or anything else - The performer did and as neither you or I know for a fact that his description of such constituted a legal "warning" your statement is purely conjecture and unprofessional "journalism."

I merely supplied a plausible explanation to a poorly performed stunt and not precipitate a debate over the difference between an illusion or the misguided perception of reality.

If that rifle had really contained a standard, ungaffed, .22 LR cartridge, Mr. Blaine would, at very minimum, be missing several front teeth through the shock of impact...period.

And I did state that there was indeed an element of risk associated with such a stunt but that the risk had been made minimal,

I regret that the truth does not fit in with your personal magic dynamic and if you believed it to be reality you are, not may be, sadly mistaken.

Do you still wait, in anxious anticipation, for the Tooth Fairy or the arrival of Santa Claus?

Blaine's stunt was not only unconvincing but laughable in production quality - I have seen better lighting and camera work in Pre-50's 8 MM B & W skin flicks and better organization in a 3 Stooges short.

Finis

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/25/09 08:57 PM

Yes, fini. Behave, Mr.Stott.
Now what were you saying about pre-50s skin flicks ....
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/25/09 09:33 PM

You'd think that I'd follow my own advice.

"Don't feed the trolls..."

But, I'm curious.. does anyone know who handles the dental work for Carl Skenes or Dorothy Dietrich. David might need their contact info. ;-)
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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/26/09 12:01 AM

Now what were you saying about pre-50s skin flicks ....


I remember that a lot of the male leads wore Zorro-like masks and black socks - which they never, and I mean never, removed during the performance.

Many shot south of the border in scruffy motel room with the windows covered with cardboard...Ah, but the faces...They had faces back then.

Paraphrase Norma Desmond

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Postby Ray T. Stott » 01/26/09 12:15 AM

But, I'm curious.. does anyone know who handles the dental work for Carl Skenes or Dorothy Dietrich. David might need their contact info. ;-)


Both of them used 0.75 inch thick boiler plate steel caps that were painted white.

Here is a promotional idea that you may wish to pass on to the great escapologist.

The next times he attempts a record breaking holding of his breath will submerged in liquid in a clear container, may I suggest he try an enlarged version of one of these:

Image


I will gladly provide the liquid to him @ n/c...given enough advance notification.

Troll my a$$.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/26/09 01:43 PM

escatologist?... nah. Back to tricks please - or more about those early three stooges skin flicks perhaps. Moe, Larry and Curly in Zorro masks? The original 'three caballeros'?

Anyway what's the attraction to implying it's okay to bust a cap in a magician's face?
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Reason: a magical movement from kether to uncouth.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/27/09 10:58 AM

Eric DeCamps wrote:[font:Book Antiqua][size:11pt]Hi Dodd:

I listened to the interview earlier today. Bill did a great job.
I also listened to the Jim Steinmeyer interview, I enjoyed that one tremendously too.

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BTW... Congrats on the MUM Cover! ;-)
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/27/09 06:15 PM

Eric DeCamps wrote:[font:Book Antiqua][size:11pt]Hi Dodd:

I listened to the interview earlier today. Bill did a great job.
I also listened to the Jim Steinmeyer interview, I enjoyed that one tremendously too.

Eric DeCamps
[/size][/font]


I'm posting our interview with Mike Caveney right now. ENJOY!
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