Sunday, April 20, 2008


With apologies to Ron Davis for getting bumped off the top spot in the Cohorts, I'd like to welcome Pam Dilmore, official mother of the Mailbox, to Blogistan.

Dilmore is the author behind A Good Word, a look at religious and poetic things. Mom, an ordained Methodist pastor, has helped me keep my head straight when writing about God and religion. For years, she has helped me sift through the extremists and blowhards and helped me see the true beauty in religion. I'm excited to see what kind of things she writes. Plus, she plays bass guitar. How many of y'all can say that about YOUR moms? Didn't think so.

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My obsession with cards started when I was three. I had a sherbet tub filled with different cards, and I used to play with them like crazy. I've collected cards ever since, although I didn't start a serious collection until I was in my 20s. My collection led me to a deck called the Ghost deck, and that led me to magic. Lately, magic companies have been introducing a slew of new cards, so here's a catchup of the newest decks I've bought over the last few months:

ELLUSIONIST'S SHADOW MASTERS: This is an all-black variation of Bicycle's Rider back, and it is sweeeeeeet-looking. Very dark, very gothic. Each card has a gradient design that makes the pips glow. Seriously... I've never in my life looked at a 10 of Clubs and said, "Wow," before this deck. See for yourself. I did a few tricks for a girl at Ground Xero on Valentine's Day, and I think she was more impressed with my cards than my magic. Because the card stock is white, so are the edges, but I fixed that with a black Sharpie. It's a sharp-looking deck, but it got clumpy after a while (before the Sharpie, even more so after). I'm also finding that the ink wears off near the edges on the faces. But it's durable, still fans well and the clumps help with flourishing.

THEORY 11'S BROWN WYNNS: OK, they are not exactly Theory 11's cards... they came from the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. As the story goes, these cards were the rave at some magician's convention. They were intended for use on the casino floor, but never made it there. The guys at T11 made a deal for a few, and sold them in limited quantities. That makes this one of the rarest decks I own, in theory. TLP got me a deck for Valentine's Day (That's why she is THE ONE... she knows me too well.)

I'm not so sure the deck is worthy of all the hype: First off, they are casino Bees, which are some of the best cards on the market. But I'm skeptical why these would be better than any other Bees intended for a casino. I doubt the Wynn commissioned a special recipe of card stock. Anyway, they feel like Hoyles, pre-U.S. Playing Card Co. The fibers in the deck remind me of corduroy pants zip-zopping as I walk. They don't fan very well, either. But they are tough, the design is elegant (as far as corporate logos go) and they clump well enough for flourishes. The jumbo indexes make color changes startling. Sad story: I've lost my seven of Diamonds.

For grammar nerds: "Bee" is the proper trademark name for Bees. With the quotes. Check it out. I have no idea, but the Ace of Spades and box all say "Bee." Why? Who knows. Looks weird, like "Bee" isn't really the name.

THEORY 11'S CENTURIONS: Following up from the Guardians, T11's latest offering is a worthy successor. T11 improved the printing quality and style with this latest deck. I tested a deck out on my cousin Susan with a series of card tricks, and they performed well. Fanning, faro shuffling and most sleights went without a hitch. They are still a bit too slick for flourishes, but I'm more of a fanner, so that's not a problem for me. Some of the design foibles are strange: The jokers are better designed than the Ace of Spades and the lack of blue ink on the face cards is puzzling. I also wonder why T11 doesn't incorporate a joker reveal into the design. That being said, I love the face cards, which are done in black and red inks. I'll be using this deck often on the streets, once I start hitting them.

UP NEXT: Ellusionist is releasing the second edition of the Black Ghost, T11 is selling David Blaine's Split Spades Lions and Dan and Dave Buck are coming out with a deck. Good thing I'm getting a raise soon.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008


I'm not physically in pain. But I wish I was.

TLP is fighting a wrist condition called Kienbock's Disease. Basically, a dinky bone in the middle of the wrist loses its ability to get blood and slowly disintegrates, causing all sorts of pain and havoc. Blessedly, it's in her left wrist, not her dominant right. But over the last few months, she's really suffered from it. And nothing seems to work -- wrist braces, injections, pain relievers, nothing helps the pain. It keeps her from sleeping well, it limits her work and keeps her from feeling halfway decent about anything.

Funny thing, though: She says she's whining.

She is enduring an amount of pain that would leave me fetal in bed with my cell phone turned off. I would fold, collapse and go postal. Yet she thinks she's whining, as if that withering bone was a fingernail that got cut too deep into the quick. I don't know how she does it. She is so tough. Her endurance staggers me. Here's the thing: Even though I couldn't handle it like she does, I'd give anything to take some of that pain for her. I'd sell my soul to the devil (if he existed) to have that dinky, blood-starved bone in my wrist and not hers. I'd give up the card tricks if it meant she could sleep at night.

The only option left is surgery: They'll fuse her wrist so that she'll lose most of her mobility. In other words, she won't be able to slap my face, but she'll be able to punch it, and give my arm a rope burn afterward. And hopefully, mercifully, it will stop the pain.

This is the ultimate frustration, and I guess I'm having a weak moment in dealing with it. The woman I love is in pain and there is absolutely nothing I can do to ease it.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I can't believe I missed it. A review is coming. Until then, enjoy the robots and puppets. And, as always, remember that this is Satriani's world. The rest of us just live in it.


Thursday, April 10, 2008


I have resisted getting a Wii, because they don't have the graphic capabilities of the PS3 or XBox 360. My sister got one, and I naturally felt the brotherly jealousy rise... "What? My sister has a more up-to-date video game system than ME? The guy who went through Ravenholm using nothing but the gravity gun? The guy who can beat Sonic the Hedgehog with one life? HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN!" Yet, still I resisted, because the abundance of games wasn't there, and the controller is just a cool peripheral -- games haven't yet been developed to take full advantage of its capabilities.

All that has changed.

The guys who make Homestar Runner have created a video game for the Wii. Should be out in June. Given how much time I've spent playing Trogdor, I must have it. It looks peripheral-ific!

Maybe Li'l Brudder will be in it.


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