Cat Snap

http://books.google.com/books?id=HNrj7SSWsCAC&pg=PP1&dq=harry+whittier+frees&as_brr=1&ei=kVdwSpWuH6f4ygS-7_jvDg

Harry Whittier Frees did a booming business in novelty postcards in the early 20th century, posing animals in human situations, including props and sets.

“I take occasion to give my personal assurance that all pictures appearing in this book are photographed from life,” he wrote in 1915’s The Little Folks of Animal Land. “The difficulties encountered in posing kittens and puppies for pictures of this kind have been overcome only by the exercise of great patience and invariable kindness.”

The Happiest Place on Earth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rescuers_Topless_Woman.jpg

Yes, it’s The Rescuers, and yes, that’s a topless woman in the window.

Disney discovered her in two frames of the film’s 1999 home video release, but apparently she’d been there since the film’s premiere in 1977.

The studio recalled 3.4 million videotapes and released a cleaned-up version two months later. If they know who did it, they’re not saying.

The Triple Deal

Take any twenty-one cards, and ask a person to choose one from them. [Deal] them in three heaps, and ask the person who selected the card in which heap it is placed. Gather them up, and put the heap containing the chosen card between the other two. Do this twice more, and the chosen card will be found the eleventh from the top.

— Alfred Elliott, The Playground and the Parlour, 1868

No Comment

A good American misprint was the following, which is warranted as true and genuine. It occurred in the proof-sheets of a scientific treatise. The sentence, as written by the author, ran as follows: ‘Filtration is sometimes assisted by the use of albumen.’ This came out as: ‘Flirtation is sometimes arrested by the use of aldermen.’

— Patrick Maxwell, Pribbles and Prabbles, 1906

“A Good Catch”

The following is a good catch: lay a wager with a person that to three observations you will put to him, he will not reply ‘a bottle of wine.’ Then begin with some common-place remark, such as, ‘We have had a fine, or wet, day to-day,’ as it may be; he will answer, of course, ‘a bottle of wine.’ You then make another remark of the same kind, as, ‘I hope we shall have as fine or finer to-morrow,’ to which he will reply, as before, ‘a bottle of wine.’ You must then catch him very sharply, and say, ‘Ah! there, sir! you’ve lost your wager;’ and the probability is, if he be not aware of the trick, he will say ‘Why, how can you make that out?’ or something similar, forgetting that, though a strange one, it is the third observation you have made.

— Samuel Williams, The Boy’s Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations, 1847

You’re Welcome

You’d pay $1,000 to witness my mastery of the black arts, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.

  1. Buy a brand-new deck of cards.
  2. Discard the jokers, cut the deck 13 times, and deal it into 13 piles.
  3. Now stand back … Ph’nglui mglw’nafh C’thulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!
  4. Look at the cards. Presto! They have magically grouped themselves by value — all the aces are in one pile, kings in another, etc.

You owe me $1,000.

Playing Favorites

A tied football match in southern Congo came to an unexpected conclusion on Oct. 28, 1998, when a lightning bolt struck and killed all 11 members of the visiting team.

“The athletes from [home team] Basanga curiously came out of this catastrophe unscathed,” reported the Kinshasa newspaper L’Avenir.

“The exact nature of the lightning has divided the population in this region, which is known for its use of fetishes in football.”

Tempting

The Earl of Yarborough offers you a wager. He’ll shuffle an ordinary deck and deal you 13 cards. If none of your cards ranks above 9, he’ll give you a thousand pounds. Otherwise you must give him one pound.

Should you accept?

Click for Answer

The Horizontorium

http://books.google.com/books?id=nmQIAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA1-PA57

This clever anamorphic illusion was invented by W. Shires in 1821. Cut out the center piece, make a hole at A, fold it at B, and position it at D. (Here’s a larger version.)

Peer through the hole with one eye, preferably with a light source on your right, and you’ll see the tombstone in three dimensions, surrounded by a low palisade.

Here’s another scene using the same principle; position the eyepiece where the turrets’ lines would converge and “the whole view will appear in its just proportions, representing a castle at a considerable distance, the loftiest part of which appearing scarcely an inch high.”