Suck a paperclip up your nose!
This one's from Jim Burrows Get a medium-small rubberband and a paperclip.
Put the rubberband around your palm and the back of your hand.
Thread the paperclip onto the band, then hold the paperclip
between thumb and forefinger. If you let it go, the paperclip
should instantly snap back, vanishing from sight. OK, now hold the
paperclip again, draw attention to yourself. When everyone's watching,
stick the paperclip partly up your nose, then snort violently while
letting it go. The rubberband will make it vanish. [Alternately, put a
second paperclip in your mouth beforehand. After you've vanished the
first one, "cough up" and spit out the second one. Perhaps put
paperclips in mouth, both ears, bellybutton...]
LORD OF THE GNATS
On NPR "Livng on Earth", an entemologist mentioned that swarms of gnats
will move towards anything that emits the low humming sound of female gnat
wings. Apparently you can "suck" an entire cloud of (male?) gnats towards
you by humming with low pitch... and they'll stop drifting the instant you
stop the sound. Two people can "pull" the insect cloud back and forth
between them. But... does this mean that gnat-clouds are always male?
Really? Maybe instead your humming is screwing up the gnat navigation.
If the gnat-cloud can remain on station while ignoring small breezes,
they're doing something exotic, and perhaps the incoming sound waves at
nearly their wing-beat frequency causes them to misjudge their horizontal
speed, so the whole cloud moves towards the sound source. I wonder what
various frequencies will do to the cloud. Maybe you could play a very
special tune to them, and cause the gnat-cloud to sculpt itself into
shapes. Letters. Ads for Pepsi, etc.
LORD OF THE ANTS
A stream of ants invaded my
workbench. I found I could get rid of them; "reflect" them all back to
their nest by placing several pieces of wet cookie along their trail where
it came out of the wall. They all end up grabbing some food and returning
the hole, so the long trail dries up. Earlier I tried erasing a
with alcohol scrub, but they found a new path within minutes. But wait a
sec. If I place lots of food at the *far* end of their long trail, then
their trail becomes "ant suction," since any wandering ants will soon
and get harnessed as food transport. It hoovers up every ant in the
whole downstairs. Hours later I can dry up that whole trail by putting
near its beginning (placed on a piece of paper.) When the trail is gone,
I throw the few ants+paper outdoors, then put a blob of caulk over the
crack in the wall. Ants gone, but NONE KILLED.
Diet drinks will float on full-sugar drinks, but only if you add a
layer of crushed ice to disrupt the flow from the spigot. Do this:
first add about an inch ice, then fill it half way with normal NON-diet
cola, then top it
a different color of diet drink (such as Lite lemonade, or diet orange,
or lemon-lime, etc.) It's like a "Black & Tan" beer! Then you can either
drink the first layer and leave the second one, or dip your straw to
levels to drink one layer at a time (and people will see the two colors
of beverage going up your clear straw. Strange!) If you use a clear
plastic cup, then you can also make subsurface waves that slosh back and
forth in slow motion like those blue "ocean wave" paperweight thingies.
PENNY CYCLOTRON ACCELERATOR
I had a big potato-chip bowl. I had a penny. After some practice I could
fling the penny along the inside surface so it would run around about
seven times before hitting bottom. (If this is too difficult, then first
practice with a marble or ball-bearing) Then I realized, OF COURSE! AH
WE CAN CREATE *INFINITE COIN VELOCITY* by swirling the
bowl along the table as the penny rolls. Pump the penny each time it
passes. Yep, it works, and the sound-effects are notable, but the penny
climbs to the top edge of the bowl
then flys outwards in a random direction. Observe, Eegore, for if we
wish to attain a coin velocity which approaches the Relativistic,
we cannot use a snack bowl which is at all cone-shaped.
Dare to be Different
Besides daring to sing loudly where others can
hear, have you ever dared to "think out loud" in public? Perhaps even
start a long conversation
with yourself? Now finally it's possible without embarrassment: just get
an old defunct cellphone
and an earphone/mike. Sit in the park with the cellphone in your lap and
say anything you want, right out loud. Nobody will care. (Just don't dare to
try this WITHOUT an obvious cellphone and microphone-headset!) Hmmm.
Even better. Just wear a mike-headset alone, but with the plug dangling
loose in your lap. Passersby will assume that you have a cellphone. But
perhaps one or two people will look more closely, realize that no
cellphone is involved, then suddenly stop smiling. And
back away from you carefully.
SEATTLE GUERRILLA ART MEME
Kids tie their old sneakers together and then pitch them over a phone
line. Harness their raw power, little one! Print out a sign you've
designed, seal it with clear spray paint, glue it onto cardboard, and then
a rock or a large iron bolt and a length of twine. Tie the rock to the
sign, and hurl them over a phone line above a street. How many years will
it remain there, twirling in the breeze? (Um... be sure to make the sign
large enough to read from a distance! Testing is required...) Print two
different words, one on each side, so it flashes them alternately while it
POP YOUR EYEBALL WITH A FORK
At a restaurant with friends, give everyone the jitters by playing with a
fork very close to your eyeball. Use the tines to pull your eyelid down,
etc. Everyone is creeped out. Now take one of those tiny plastic cups
of ultrapasturized creamer, cup it in your hand and hold it up to your eye
without anyone noticing, use the fork to poke holes in the paper lid (looks like you're
stabbing your eye,) then squeeze the cup and scream while dropping the
fork! White gunk will squirt all over the table. This one comes
from Penn & Teller's PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD, a book that
readers of this website just GOTTA have! Twisted insightful tricks by
vengeful nerd social outcasts.
BIG GIANT HEAD
Get two identical cola cans or yogurt cups or
bottles of white-out. Place them in front of you on the desk, a couple of
inches apart horizontally, then rotate them so they look identical. Then
cross your eyes so you see three of them. Concentrate on the middle one,
and tilt your head a bit so it isn't doubled (maybe rotate one object
until the middle one looks perfect.) The middle object looks perfectly
but it's tiny! Actually, the angles of your eyes make them
act farther apart than usual, as if your head was huge. OK, now carefully
grasp the two objects and very slowly draw them apart while concentrating
on the middle one. It will get smaller and smaller while staying exactly
the same size. (Or your head will grow larger and larger.)
Cross your fingers, and curl your middle finger
around your index finger. Now grab your ring finger and curl it over the
back of your curled middle finger. Do the same with your pinky. Your
hand looks damaged. LOBSTER BOY!! Now do the same with the other hand
too. LOBSTER BOY IS HERE TO TAKE AWAY THE BAD CHILDREN.
GIANT CLOWN LIPS
In front of a mirror, stick out your lower lip.
Curl it way down using fingers. Now stick out your tongue at the same
time and use it to push your lower lip down. Presto, GIANT CLOWN LIPS!
Now make lobster-boy hands and cross one eye as well. Too bad the giant
clown lips make gleeking impossible.
MISPLACE YOUR HEAD
Stolen from Michael Jackson "Thriller" video. Stand facing away from
friends. Bend your head down, chin resting on chest, and hunch your
shoulders up a bit. Your friends will see your head TOTALLY DISAPPEAR.
Stagger around while feeling the empty spot with hands. Make noises like
a wet esophagus.
MONSTER STATIC DISCHARGES
Another good one: buy some "snap-n-pops"; the little paper-wrapped
sand balls that go "bang" when stepped on. Find a colleague who
is working on live electronic equipment. Hold up a snapper and twiddle it
in your fingers HARD. The little explosion sounds EXACTLY like an
accidental short to 120V, or maybe like a capacitor discharge.
Now scuff on the rug, then twiddle a snapper while touching somebody on
the elbow. The "bang" sounds like the worlds most painful electric spark.
(Obviously this is for the benefit of onlookers, since your victim
COLA CAN BEATBOX
Crush two sides of a coke can inwards, but only near the top, then rotate
it 90deg and crush two sides inwards near the bottom. Now push the top
and bottom together (or stomp on it) and it very easily collapses into a
puck. Now pull it partway apart again and you'll hear all sorts of snaps
and poings. Push it in and out and the sequence of poings will play
forwards and back like a recording. It's a mechanical beatbox sequencer,
a toy marimba, a percussion accordian. Make mouthsounds to accompany
the noises (such as whistling while humming, or sucking lips to make
swarms of mosquitoes.)
Living with an echo
Try speaking a simple sentence, but repeat each word twice.
"Testing-testing one-one two-two three-three." It sounds a bit
like a genuine echo. OK, now speak each individual syllable twice:
"Tes-Tes Ting-Ting One-One Two-Two Three-Three." Say it a few times
fast. That sounds very much like an echo. Finally, say it with the
accent on the first of each syllables, with no pause between pairs
but a slight pause between the different syllables. Speak with constant
tone, not like conversation but like making a PA announcement at a ball
game. Keep the timing between syllable-pairs always exaclty the same.
"TES(tes,) TING(ting,) ONE(one,) TWO(two,) THREE(three). It echos!
Sounds disturbingly real!
Now practice until you can do it fast. Go find unattended
microphones, and screw with the sound engineer's head. How
to get rid of that echo? Try different hookups. Is it still
there? YEP-yep. DAMN! UH-uh. TIC-tic. TUH-tuh. TES-tes.
Head without a body
Walk smoothly. Walk REALLY smoothly. Try to walk so your body and head
do not move up and down at all. Especially keep your head from bouncing
slightly as you walk. Try to drift along like the princess descending the
stairs; like the vampire's wives approaching the sleeping victim's bed.
You'll start to feel like a floating TV camera, a disembodied viewpoint.
Not really there. Or move fast along the hall, and you become a jet plane
flying down the shafts of the gigantic Alien Construction. Put your face
next to the side of the hall and race along, and the wall becomes the
floor, racing below you at supersonic speed. Soar upwards to avoid the
thermostat and the drinking fountain, and don't fall into the chasm or
you'll end up in somebody's math class.
I accidentally pulled the ring off a can of soft
drink. Yet there was a tiny hole in the center. I started drinking. I
could shake and invert the can, producing an intense squirtgun effect.
Like drinking from a cow?! It's hard to make a small enough hole with the
pull-tab, so instead use a needle, or use the awl on your swiss army
knife. If the hole is tiny, the can will squirt like a squirtgun for a
good long time after each shake. If the hole is too large, it drains
quickly. In that case just turn it sideways and suck powerfully on the
tiny hole, draining the can and causing it to collapse.
When colleagues ask you what the hell you think you're doing, be sure and
tell them what the technique is called.
The journey starts with a step
Smoothly and rapidly walk down stairs while skipping alternate steps.
(It requires some practice alone, but it's not that hard.) I started
doing this in grade school where the "hall monitors" would call the
teacher if they caught any kids skipping steps while going upstairs. So I
started skipping steps going down. This confused them, and they had no
rule to cover it.
Are human bodies born with programmed
instincts to avoid damage? Try this on yourself: take a sharp pointed
object and make sudden stabbing motions toward your forearm. Not very
creepy? Now stab towards your throat, or towards your fingertips (under
nails.) Ewwww, a definite 'avoidance response.' Now, knowing what to look
for, stab towards various body parts. (Or trigger your 'mirror neurons'
by watching others perform stabbing on themselves.) Hmmm, my body objects
to wrist or knee damage, but doesn't mind stabs to thighs, biceps, etc.
I guess that makes sense: body somehow knows to use its arms to keep
sharp broken branches away from its throat. It wants to avoid gut wounds,
and is very protective about ear holes and eyes. OK, now get a big dirty
rock and jerk it suddenly towards your groin, or towards your brittle
At a large company party there are helium balloons as decorations. There
are also vegetable horsdoeuvres. Tie a carrot or celery stick to a
balloon. It must sink rapidly. Eat down the carrot slowly, while testing
the buoyancy. When the balloon hovers or sink/rises very very slowly,
done. Repeat with more balloons. Soon the room is filled with annoying
density-neutral objects drifting around. They lose some helium and sink
after many minutes, so bite each carrot to restore full nuisance
Hold out your arms and point your index fingers at each
other with fingertips touching. Now move your arms in a circle with
fingertips together. Easy. Do the same but with fingertips at opposite
points of the circle, as if you're rolling an invisible cylinder.
Easier! OK, now keep circling one arm, but suddenly stop the other one.
Harder, eh? And it makes you feel like a machine. Now start circling
both again, then suddenly stop the other one this time. Now for the hard
part. Keep one arm circling, but CIRCLE THE OTHER ONE BACKWARDS. Your
fingertips should pass each other twice per revolution. Hard? No, that's
trivial. Trivial! The REALLY hard trick is to circle both arms in the
same direction, but circle one of them SLIGHTLY FASTER than the other.
Say for every seven turns of one arm, your other arm should turn around
eight times so the phasing fingertips approach and pass each other every
eight turns. Soon you'll be ready to play bongos ...at two different
speeds with your two different hands. Feynman bongo master
In third grade I remember this kid on the playground
who could only close both eyes. She hadn't yet learned to close just one.
That's no big flaw, since most of us never learned how to raise and lower
just one eyebrow. The Unibrow is a state of mind, not something on
your face. Much sporadic practice in front of convenient mirrors can cure
our sad ignornant state.
Correct restaurant request
When ordering food, make it your habit to always be specific: ask for
roasted BIRD meat. And don't forget the COW'S milk icecream. Order some
scrambled BIRDS eggs. DEAD cow hamburgers and burritos. Pig bacon, etc.
Be the outsider who knows that a trout egg omlet with raccoon sausages
might appear if their order at Denny's wasn't clear enough. Or dogs eggs.
Mmmmmmm, dog's eggs.
Clap normally. Smap smap smap. Keep clapping, and now rotate your hands
so one faces up, one down, and turn one hand so they collide at 90deg.
Cup them both, and try to seal them together as they strike. Now it goes
PONK! PONK! PONK! instead of smapping. Sounds like small paper bags
chirp like a cricket
Can you purr like a cat, deep in your throat? Or snore, or do a pigeon
"KKKKooo," the loogie-hocking sound. Just whistle at the same time.
Apparently very useful when nobody laughs at a joke.
Doing a BONNG.
Get an unopened plastic bottle of cola. Hold it by its cap so it dangles
down, then whip it hard in the side with your knuckles: sweep your arm
violently past and give it a glancing blow. It goes DOOOOOONG!!! The gas
pressure determines the pitch! Thwack it many times to memorize the
sound. Then partially unscrew the cap to give a very
brief hiss of escaping CO2, then tighten again. Thwack it, and the pitch
will be lower. Vent it, whack, vent it, whack, and the note goes down and
down. But now try whacking it much harder to splash the contents. It
fizzes, and the note climbs upwards with each hard strike. Now go test
bottles in the supermarket: all give the same pitch, right? Shake one
up, let the bubbles settle, then thwack. PITCH DOESN'T CHANGE? Shaking a
sealed bottle of cola does not alter the pressure. Huh.
Pee-Wee Herman sez: Counterintuitive-y!
Twinkle twinkle LITTLE EYE
When out at night watching the twinkling stars (which Astronomers call
"Bad Seeing,") you can do a simple physics trick. Look at flickering
stars down towards the horizon. Cross your eyes and
carefully observe the double-image stars. You'll notice that their
twinkle pattern is out of sync! Each doubled star image is TWINKLING
SEPARATELY. It's no illusion, and it occurs because starlight is
spatially coherent. Starlight far more coherent than the best laser, and
because of this, starlight has severe laser-speckle. If you could see the
starlight shining on a white surface, you'd see multicolor laser-speckle
confetti-patterns which are sliding along at the speed of the wind.
Turbulent warm/cool air behaves like warped lenses (just like image
distortions over a fire.) It distorts the starlight wavefronts to produce
strong interference patterns. Usually these patterns are smaller than the
distance between your eyes, hence each of your eyes sees a separate
Hearing THE VOICES
Run a fan in your room, or in the next room over. Or turn on a radio or
TV, crank the sound up, and tune to a blank channel that provides rushing
white noise. Now go about your business. Soon you'll hear whispering
voices in the fan. They sound like English (or like your own language.)
But you can't quite hear what they're trying to tell you. You're very
lucky. Don't listen any closer. You might understand.
Songs from the Other When
Go listen to this bit from a famous
movie. It's well-known music, but from an adjacent timestream.
For some reason it makes all my arm-hair stand on end. That other life I
could have had? It's just beyond the thinnest membrane, waiting outside
and peeking in through the blinds. (In
our own reality, the makers of Blade Runner instead chose "Memories of
Green." The above Vangelis music was never used.)
Accidentally forgot to gravity
Stand out in the middle of the yard, and stare up into the blue sky.
Keep staring up, and carefully get to your knees and lie down. Realize
that if you make a mistake, you might fall upwards instead of falling
down. It might be wise to clench the grass in fists, just
to be sure. Be very careful.
The Ultimate Challenge
Say you've learned to cross your eyes.
And maybe you've learned the above simple trick for crossing just one eye.
And maybe you can quiver your eyes at high speed or change your pupil
diameter. That's nothing. NOTHING! Your eye muscles are perfectly
capable of moving your eyes to a huge variety of positions, and there is
no physical connection between your two eyes. So go to a mirror and learn
to move one eye up... and the other eye down! Or cross your eyes,
then bring them out to converge on the distant horizon, then keep going
and really uncross your eyes. Read a book with one eye while
the web with the other. (Is any of this even possible? It might require
brain damage. Perhaps trod the path of free-eye viewing of
stereopticon cards... then slowly move the two stereo photos to some very