"There is another world, but it's inside this one"
Do the Celestial Crawl
On a cloudless warm night, walk around
until you can put a nearby building or tree very close to a bright star in
the eastern sky. Now lay on the ground and move yourself until the corner
of the building or the top of the tree just BARELY covers that star. Wait
a moment. The star will reappear. Wiggle along to cover up the star
again. It reappears. Keep wiggling along. (Um... notice that the entire
Earth is rotating beneath you?)
Burst of flavor
While reading, eat something. Notice that the flavor vanishes as soon as
you get involved with the story you're reading? Now concentrate on your
mouth, and the flavor explodes into reality. By concentrating on the text
or on your mouth, you can make the flavor flash on and off. WEIRD!
Finger of PAIN
After getting out of the car, quickly touch one of your passengers. Snap!
Why waste a good "zap" on the
car door? (If you don't enjoy sparks, then
use the car keys to touch your passenger. The shock still occurs, but YOU
won't feel it!)
Look to the left, close your eyes, then touch the rightmost edge of
your right eyeball with a fingertip. (Push gently on your eyelid, don't
touch the eye itself!) Wiggle your finger up and down. See anything
off to the left? That's the "image" of your fingertip, but the retina of
your eye is feeling it, not seeing it. Move your finger UP, and the
black/silver splotch moves DOWN. Use two fingertips, and you see two
splotches. This is the realm where touching meets seeing.
Some more cool
things involving eyelashes, light waves, etc.
Twang Optic Nerve
Here's the other way to "touch your retina." Much funnier. First teach
cross just one eye (see above.) Now jam one finger up your nose, tap your
friend on the shoulder, and say "I can touch my optic nerve!"
Simultaneously tense your hand and swerve one
eye back and forth, as if your finger is pushing upon it from within.
really insert a finger in your nostril. Instead create the illusion:
extend all fingers but fold your pinky finger under, then push your pinky
finger knuckle against your nostril. Practice in the mirror to perfect
...with a foot-high flame. While in a restaurant, tear off a bit of a
napkin or other paper, and twiddle it into a little rod the thickness of a
pencil lead. Dip both ends into the liquid candle wax so the whole thing
is wetted, then wait for it to harden (or chill it in your drink.)
Carefully jab this hard wax rod into the top of the candle so it becomes a
second wick. Tilt the candle to expose this extra wick to flame. Now
REPEAT THE PROCESS! Five wicks create a tall flame like a blow torch
which makes a soft roaring noise.
Tube of Boob
Tune your TV to a blank station and adjust it for good "snow". Stare into
the snow. Imagine the number "3", and it will appear as a 3-shaped
flickering. But then it will start to slowly rotate. Mentally erase the
3, then imagine a horizontal line. It appears, but it won't stay still, it
wants to drift and rotate. Make it shrink and vanish. Keep staring, and
soon the snow will smoothly ripple, as if you were looking through the
distorting water of complicated waves in a swimming pool. Think of more
stuff to create mentally. View the "snow" with one eye covered with dark
sunglasses. Who says that watching TV for hours isn't worthwhile?!
Music of Infinity
While painting murals in the "graffiti
tunnel" under the U. of Rochester quad, I was humming and hit a resonance
which got very loud. Over weeks I made it my habit to hum at the
fundamental acoustic resonance of the width of the long concrete corridor.
The slight humming would slowly grow until I could almost feel the hair on
my arms buzzing. It didn't work as well with crowds of people in the
tunnel (acoustic damping of sentient protein-blobs), but I doubtlessly
weirded-out the lone student late at night.
Carl Jung, upon being asked by James Joyce to explain the difference
between Joyce's mind versus that of his schizophrenic daughter, replied:
"She falls. You jump."
Un SELF -ishness
This person (I?) has just remembered an idea from last year. Write a long
email or a story, but do not say "I" or "me", instead say "this one" or
"the body." After a couple of hours of this, THIS ONE encounters a
slightly drunken state, and THE BODY becomes prone to fits of giggling,
and certain childish verbal gyrations begin to arise spontaneously in the
writing. Beware, for if the body should accidentally send the resulting
email message to a similar body at another location, that distant body
will aquire the conviction that the originating body has gone entirely
Expose numberous extraneous bodies to the same message and they will
forever gaze on the initiating body with perhapsvalid suspicions about its
sanity. THIS ONE also suggests employting this self-cancellation
technique when dressed as an alien for Halloween. A genuine hivemind
organisms would refer to the hive members as "this one",
and if all selfreferential internal selftalk terminology is altered until
a certain temporal
threshold is exceeded, the body will not only THINK borg, but will become
in danger of BEING borg!
Now go forth and also
eliminate the verbs "is, was, were..." Aha!
already know about this "self-cancellation" stuff.
Also check this out: On Shyness
Put a coin inside a balloon, then blow it up and tie it off. Shake it and
then swirl the balloon around, and the penny will start rolling around in
a circle! It makes a whirring noise and smoothly circulates. Get it
going fast, then let it go, and the balloon whirrs and wobbles
Once you get good at spinning the coin, get it going in a vertical circle,
and place the balloon gently against one ear. Loud mechanical roaring
noise! Do this with TWO balloons at the same time, and put one balloon
against each of your ears. It's LOUD, and has stereo effects. Better
yet, sneak up behind your victims and put them on
THEIR ears. Sounds like UFOs touching down right outside your building.
The noise from the Monolith
Get a "bloogle" (one of those corrugated plastic hose noisemakers.) Spin
it around while holding the end over your mouth, then say "eeeeeeeeee"
with a deep voice. The sound comes from all directions and inside your
head. WEEEEEEIRD. Now go "ooooo" like a police siren, and it sounds like
a UFO full of elephants.
Make 'smoke' with your mouth
Compress the air in your mouth, then let off the pressure, then let the
air out slowly. You'll see fog!
Detailed version: Face a light source such as a bare light bulb.
Tightly close you lips. Fill your cheeks with air partially, breathe
normally through your nose, then fiercely tense your cheeks and lips while
blowing to compress the air inside. (It helps if you push fingers on your
lips to keep air from spurting out.) Now relax your cheeks, part your
lips, and spit the air out very slowly. (Don't breathe out, instead spit
the air out with cheeks and tongue.) Smoke! Fog comes out of your mouth.
It's just like the fog in the neck of a freshly opened bottle of cola.
This works great in the dark with a flashlight.
Get some epoxy or crazy-glue and attach a
quarter to the floor. Who can resist stopping to grab it? Arrrg! Put it
in a spot that you pass by every day and see how long it survives.
Eventually somebody will come along with a pocketknife and pry it loose.
Once I did this in the entrance of the Psychology department at the U. of
Rochester. The quarter lasted for weeks. After awhile a black blossom of
markings appeared around it. People were scuffing the floor while trying
to kick it loose. Years later at a party somebody mentioned seeing the
quarter there, but they were afraid to mess with it because they assumed
that some psychology student was watching it with a hidden video camera as
part of some experiment.
Make your 'self' vanish
As a child, while all alone, pretend
that you are not who you think you are, but that you have suddenly woken
up in this human body, and your memories of your whole entire life have
just been placed in your head. Your real memories of your "real" life are
gone. Your mom and dad are not your real parents, they are the parents of
the child you've just been forced to occupy. You know you were just
somewhere else a moment ago, but now you are here on this "Earth" thing,
and you don't know how to escape and go back to your real home!
When done right, the shivers and black sparklies encroach, and you feel
like you are nearing a precipice in the darkness. EEWWWWWW!
The Hot Chocolate Effect
Get a mug, a METAL spoon, and some hot water. Mix in the chocolate
powder, then while the spoon is still immersed in the liquid, tap it
against the bottom or sides of the mug. It goes "thunk" instead of
"clink." Keep tapping, and you'll hear the pitch rise higher and higher.
Now stir the liquid. Resume tapping, and hear that the pitch is low again
(but then it rises.) If you keep tapping for long enough time, the tone
will eventually become a high-pitched "clink" sound. Acoustics
researchers give this phenomenon the exotic name...
hot chocolate effect!
(The underwater foam-cloud is the cause. The speed of sound is slower in
foam. Beaten egg-whites or ice cream in root beer create similar effects.)
Swimming pool "hot chocolate effect"
Take two rocks into a swimming pool. Splash around in order to create a
huge cloud of underwater bubbles. Quickly knock the rocks together
underwater inside the bubble-cloud. You'll hear a loud low musical tone,
like a gong. As you hit the rocks together repeatedly, the pitch
rises. (No rocks? Sometimes you can whack your knuckles
together hard enough to make the "dong" sound. Hurts though.)
Mix a bit of whipped cream with a little water, stir
well, then pour in a large amount of warm cola. FOOSH! Giant explosion
of foam all over. If you do the same with milk and cola, very little
happens. The microscopic bubbles in the whipped cream are the cause.
The same thing happens when melted ice cream hits carbonated beverage,
thus explaining why "rootbeer floats" make foam, yet pouring milk into
rootbeer creates only boredom. Ice cream is actually a "miniaturized
foam," and it only needs some carbonated water to let it expand back its
true size. Prepare a trap: put a small dab of the dilute whipcream or
melted ice cream in a cup, then ask someone to pour in your chosen
carbonated beverage. Make a cola-rocket by injecting a turkey-baster-full
of diluted whipcream deep into a full bottle of warm carbonated liquid.
And finally, if you ever see people eating ice cream, offer them a big
gulp from your cup of cola. It will tend to spray out of their
Modify your perceptions with physics rather than psychopharmacology:
put an infrared filter in some welding goggles, then wear them outdoors
on a bright, sunny day. (Choose a filter that is in the near-IR, so a bit
of light is visible still. Or try theatrical gels, congo blue combined with
primary red, several of each.) The world will become EXTREMELY BIZARRE.
couple of minutes until your eyes grow accustomed to the darkness. Then
the bright pink clouds drift in the dark sky above the frosty white trees.
The world is dusk, yet the
sun still shines. Car tail-lights blaze brightly. The houses and roads
dark. But the grass! The trees! They are frosty blazing red, like snow
which has been sprayed with cherry Kool-aid powder. Everyone's clothes
are altered. Blue-jeans are almost white. Some black clothing turns
light grey. The artwork of T-shirts is
almost invisible, and everyone's hair is grey. (New: see the
I've heard that some types of clothing are transparent to the infrared, so
stagger on down to the beach and verify if this is so. "Mister, why are
you wearing those goggles?"
Caught in a Facewarp
Find a piece of mirror material about 30cm across (or just take a
small mirror out of its frame.) If your mirror has sharp glass edges,
grind them off with emery paper or put scotch tape on the edges. Next,
stand in front of a larger mirror so you can see your reflection. Place
your smaller mirror against your face so that its edge runs vertically
down the middle and is slightly crushing your nose. Tilt your mirror
sideways until you see your reflection in the bigger mirror. Your face
will look perfectly symmetrical because your small mirror is reflecting
other half: you'll have a face that's composed of two left halves or two
Look to the side and YOUR EYES MOVE IN
OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS! Gah! Tilt your head one way and your cranium
expands hugely, tilt it the other way and you become a pinhead with a
gigantic neck. Move the edge of the mirror so your nose has one nostril
and you develop a single large eye. Hide one hand behind the
non-reflective side of the mirror and extend one finger under the mirror's
edge against your face. A worm appears on your face (a worm with
Wiggle your finger. Open your mouth and and grasp your finger between
your teeth, and the fatnecked-pinhead has bitten the worm! Swallow it
(and perhaps use your hidden hand to push your neck flesh sideways, to
form a lump that moves down your throat.)
By this point I will have
become "overly amused" and in danger of damaging myself.
See your Blood
Get one of those red LED keychain flashlights. Close your eyes, then
glance rapidly back and forth while placing the bright red LED against
your eyelid. You see sharply-focused "trees"! If it doesn't work, move
the LED to different spots while continuing to wiggle your eyes by
glancing back and forth. The "trees" are the blood capillaries that cover
your whole retina. The spot where they all converge is your blind spot,
and in the exact center of your viewpoint is a small dark blotch that has
no capillaries. Very strange that your eye is constructed with the blood
vessles ON TOP of the retina, where they can cast shadows! Remeber those
"retina pattern ID" readers from SF stories, that read your eyes like
fingerprints? These blood vessles are what they detect. Now try the same
thing with your other eye.
The Vanishing Rod
If you're in a place where cotton candy is available, you can make a large
"rod" vanish. Get a small cup of warm water (or use your cup of stale
diet cola so you don't draw attention to your preparations.) Then stretch
wad one whole batch of cotton candy into a solid rod-shaped mass. Then
take your rod and shove it into your cup. The entire thing vanishes!
The water soaks the tight-packed fibers, which dissolve almost instantly,
so the wave of "sludge-ification" is very fast.
This one's dangerous, so take your life in your
hands. (Better do it outside.) Connect up an aquarium air-stone to your
gas kitchen stove, dunk it in a bucket of sudsy water, and let it create a
gigantic mass of bubbles. Carefully light the mass with a match. It
doesn't flame. It doesn't go bang. Instead it WINKS OUT OF EXISTENCE!
Every tiniest bubble vanishes in an instant. This big white "object" is
suddenly not there anymore. (After getting overconfident, I held these
white bubble-masses in my hand and lit them. No burns, just slightly warm
water.) Probably the water in the bubbles boils, which slows down the
flame-front. [DANGER! DON'T USE PROPANE! I used city gas in Rochester
NY. I tried the same trick using propane. YAAARRG, it creates
fireball which will leave soot on your ceiling and perhaps ignite your
THE NULL ZONE
Stare straight ahead, then concentrate on things in your peripheral
vision. Try wiggling your fingers while moving your hand out "beyond the
edge." Is the edge fuzzy? What color is it out there? It's not black.
It's too weird, since there's a boundary, but there's NOTHING on the other
side of it. It's not really an edge at all, since an edge divides two
regions. This "edge" has NO REGION on the other side!
NEPTUNE'S HAMMER Obtain some V8 juice or orange juice in a
small glass bottle. (Any vacuum-packed non-carbonated liquid should
work.) Hold it in one hand and strike the top with the heel of your other
hand. If you strike it hard, the glass bottom will fly off and the liquid
will blast downwards. If you strike it more softly, you'll hear a loud
"snap" sound. Practice striking it sofly enough to obtain the interesting
noise. Now break the seal and let in the air, and you'll find that you
can't create the snapping sound anymore. The sound is caused by
cavitation, by a "water hammer" effect. Liquids are held together by
atomic bonding, and if you create negative pressure, you can tear open
some bubbles made of vacuum. When the bubbles slam shut again, the water
pressure becomes momentarily immense. But if the liquid is at atmospheric
pressure to begin, you can't create enough negative pressure to get to the
cavitation realm. (This works with canned vegetables too, and with
glass jars of pasta sauce.)
Aware of your ENTIRE SKELETON
Taverns with black light tubes
are rare now, but if you should find one, make sure to have a couple
fluorescent green "highliter" markers in your posession. Under black
light the skin on human arms looks purple-brown. Draw a marker line on
your knuckle. Blazing yellow-green! Sketch in some crude finger bones and
your hand looks like a moving skeleton. Do up both of your hands. Add
arm bones, Ulna and Radius. Metacarples even! On a busy night the
onlookers may demand that you to set up a phosphorescent tatoo parlor.
(This all seems to wash away in the shower, but try viewing it
again under black light the following evening. It's still there!)
Never drive with a Jerk
As you slow your car at a traffic light, the deceleration is relatively
constant, but when your car actually halts, the deceleration vanishes.
Your passengers feel the sudden change as they fall back into their seats.
This effect is so common and expected that we can play with everyone's
heads: remove the jerk! As you brake to a halt, simultaneously ease off
the pedal so your car decelerates less and less. Time it right and you
will stop braking entirely just as the car halts entirely. Unless your
riders are looking out the window, they won't realize that the car has
actually stopped. (This works particularly well with a van full of kids
who are waiting to leap out as soon as you come to a complete stop.)
[I'm told by a commercial pilot that this is a common practice on
airlines. At the end of the flight when passengers are waiting to leap up
and rush to the overhead bins, they'd better look out the airplane
windows. The passengers who run by inertial guidance (waiting for the final
jerk) will be intentionally misled!]
Wearing the Invisible Mask
During primitive festivals (Mardi
Gras, halloween) we hide our identities, and if we take the right mental
turning, we discard our everday personalities. A stranger takes charge.
But why wait for Fat Tuesday? No masks needed! Take a lesson from the
little kid in "The Shining" and just start talking funny. Continuously.
For hours. Try Alfred Jarry's staccato
monotone. Donald Duck Voice works, but I prefer a mutant version of
Grover from Sesame Street. Open your eyes wide and stare into the distance
(altered states are attracted with the eyes.) Eliminate the word "I," if
you really must. Scare loved ones. "THIS ONE IS SORRY, MRS. BEATY,
BUT THE WILLIAM FRAGMENT IS NOT CURRENTLY PRESENT. FULL CONTROL OF VOCAL
CHORDS IS ATTAINED, BUT OTHER MAJOR MUSCLES ARE NOT ON LINE." (jerk arms
spastically for effect.) When they stop smiling and loudly insist that we
cut it out, we're approaching the proper "Mask Wearer" state.
Dry your tongue!
Get a clean cloth or paper towel. Stick out
your tongue, then dry it thoroughly with the cloth. Keep sticking it out
so it will air-dry a bit more. Now challenge your friends to feel your dry
tongue surface. Weird and creepy. Grab the hands of an unsuspecting
passersby, and force them up against your warm dry tongue.
Halloween costume optics: your head in a jar.
Unfortunately you can't see a damn thing while wearing this. It's
giving you "Head-in-jar Vision!" Cut some small eyeholes. Now go out
and play in traffic
- Find a flexible 9" fresnel lens. Often they're sold in bookstores as reading aids.
- Smash it onto your face, bend the edges to touch your ears. Tape it there.
- The bent lens makes it look as if your face is under water.