Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cell Fish

If anyone wonders what that fishy smell is, it just might be my cell phone.

I realize this may take some explaining…

Last night I had the unique opportunity to become a participant in Penn & Teller’s Show at the Rio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The duo started the show off by asking everyone to pull out their cell phones and hold them in the air. I thought this was going to be the typical “Please silence your cell phones” plea, until they explained that this would be a unique opportunity for someone to come on stage, be part of a trick, and have the opportunity to video tape it up close and learn the secret. Oooh, ooh, pick me!!

And pick me they did. I was brought up to the stage and asked by Penn if I had a friend in the audience who could call me. My friend and co-worker Matt G. volunteered, so they had him call me. After identifying that it was indeed my ringtone and phone, they started to video from the stage. After introducing themselves and me, they then proceeded to introduce me to Criss Angel! Well, not really Criss Angel but a life-size cutout of him. After getting a nice video Criss and I, they then had me watch as Penn dropped my phone into an empty paper cup, place it on the floor, and then stomp it to smithereens. Well, if you read my last blog post, you would know I have a pretty tough iPhone, but this time – it was gone.

Penn then had Matt G. call my phone again. Suddenly, there was a faint ringing in the back of the theater. The spotlight searched out a gentleman near the back of the theater who they asked to reach under his seat and pull out what he found there. He discovered a very large Styrofoam box. As they passed it up to the stage and I collected it, Penn asked Matt to call the phone again. Sure enough, the ringing was coming from inside the sealed, taped box. We opened it up and what was inside? A fish. A Tilapia, to be exact.

After having Matt call one more time, I was amazed (and slightly horrified) that the fish was indeed emitting my ringtone. They sliced the head off and there inside, in a plastic bag, was my cell phone!! It was handed back to me with just the one request that I not watch the video of how it was done until after the show.

Now that I know the secrets of the Universe (or at least just this trick), I debated whether or not to share the video and explanation. But then I had a thought: P&T’s entire show is about debunking magic myths and getting the audience involved in how it is done. They flat out showed us in a wonderful monologue and mime routine where they illustrated the seven fundamentals to slight of hand:


Not always in this order, of course

(Also, I realized that in revealing the step by step of how the trick is done wouldn’t lessen any the enjoyment of one watching, because the pure artistry in the way these two perform is amazing. Magic, if you will.)

So here it is – the secret of the iPhone in the Fish, or, “Cell Fish.”

While looking for a volunteer, they seemed to specifically look for someone with an iPhone. After I was selected, I was asked to remove the case. Then as their banter started and the video began, so did the trick.

First up, the Steal. Not so much a steal as a gift, since I willingly handed off my phone to Penn. Then, Criss Angel. As they brought out the cut out, Penn notices he isn’t wearing his customary 20 lb cross and proceeds to put it around his neck. In doing so, he Ditches the phone into a pouch on the back of the cut out while Loading an identical phone he had Palmed from his sleeve and then proceeding to continue as if it is my phone. The cut out is moved off stage where a stagehand places my phone into a plastic bag and then into a fish with a slit cut into one side. The fish phone is flipped, hiding the slit, packed in ice and sealed in a Styrofoam box then run to the back of the theater I assume though a tunnel / trap door under the guest’s seat.

While all this backstage activity is going on, I am being Misdirected onstage. As Penn is placing the Switched phone into the cup, he drops the lid on the ground. As I bend over to pick it up, he throws the imposter phone over his shoulder to the audience’s enjoyment where it is caught by Teller, and while I am not in on the joke that the audience is with the Duo, I don’t notice because Penn is just so funny and charismatic and I’m enjoying being on stage.

Now for the Simulation. I am guessing that it would be hard to hear the ringing of a phone, inside a bag, inside a fish, packed in ice, sealed in a Styrofoam box under the seat of a 380 lb man. So, I’m thinking the tech crew had recorded the initial ringing of my phone and then looped it back through a speaker under the seat.

The rest of the trick is pure showmanship as the box is dramatically passed forward, through the shock of opening the box and finding a raw fish. The horror upon hearing the ringing coming from inside said stinky, raw fish and ending with our amazement of how a phone got inside a whole fish.

Penn and Teller have long been one of my favorite acts. Their straightforward approach to classic tricks, and then the breaking down of those tricks is always entertaining yet I still often scratch my head and say, “But really, how did they do that?!” It is pure artistry. I am thrilled to have been a part of it, even if for only a few minutes.

Video: Cell Fish (The video ends after the fish is presented backstage, but before it goes in the fish, I presume because they didn’t think I’d want 2-3 minutes of the inside of a raw fish. For that I am thankful).

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Lessons Learned In Minnesota:

1. Sometimes, over an hour to wait for dinner is definitely worth it.

2. When booking a hotel, try and find out if they are renovating the room right above you.

3. Garrison Keillor is the human equivalent of a bowl of chicken soup.

4. With the proper clothing, a Minnesota Winter is survivable.

5. My iPhone can get run over by a truck and not break.

My Minnesota adventure was a success! Sorry it has taken me so long to write about it, but work has been keeping me busy, and procrastination is one of my major flaws. I promise to work on that… tomorrow.

So, Matthew and I arrived in Minnesota after a lengthy layover in Chicago. Apparently the entire Midwest had been enjoying a mild winter until the Carter’s decided to visit. Then there were drops in temperatures, snow, high winds – basically all the things I hoped to experience while up north.

Upon arrival, we were picked up by my friend Matt G. in the most fully salt encrusted vehicle I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing since living in Boston. See, while we were flying through that Chicago snowstorm, he was driving through it. It was great having a limo service the whole weekend – especially one with child proof locks in the back seat so we could trap Matthew.

After a quick stop at the hotel to drop off bags and clean up it was time for a whirlwind trip of Minneapolis / St. Paul. Matt G. had lived there a few years ago, so we had our own personal tour guide of places he had worked at. If it weren’t for the sub freezing temperatures in the winter, I could see why it would be a nice place to live.

Matt convinced us that we needed to experience a Jucy Lucy (no, that’s not a typo) at the famous Matt’s Bar (no relation to either Matt that I was spending the evening with). A Jucy Lucy is, how do I say? The most freakingly delicious thing that you can eat, but you can’t think about what you are actually eating while you eat it. A hunk of cheese is surrounded by raw meat then pattied out, grilled, topped with onions and served right off a grill that probably hasn’t been cleaned since the Reagan years. At first I was skeptical, but the place was packed and we waited almost an hour to be seated and order. Yes. It was worth it.

Full of Jucy Lucy, we had a quick nighttime tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul, then headed back to the hotel to turn in for a night. We had a big day ahead of us and wanted to get a good night’s sleep. Sadly, the folks at Holiday Inn had different plans. Apparently the best time to start work on renovations on the floor above us is at 4:00 am on a Saturday. We were not thrilled by this, as you can imagine. It became very clear why we were getting such a great rate for the room.

Since we were getting an early start, we decided to hit the gym to train for the 50 mile MS Challenge Walk I have on March 3rd. After a nice work out and a tasty breakfast, we met up with Matt G.’s wife Joann. The first stop of the day was the Mill City Museum where the featured exhibits were “A History of Cake Mix” and “The Rise of Convenience Foods.” Sure, we were skeptical, but Matt G. was strangely excited about it, so we went in with an open mind. In short, it was one of the most entertaining and informative museums I have ever visited. Matt G. and I, being in the tourism industry, are pretty critical of tours, and we both gave it high marks. The highlight was a re-enactor who took us through the history of the Mill on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi from it’s beginnings, through a devastating explosion, its re-building, and then its closing. It was a beautiful building and the rooftop views were wonderful.

After a tasty lunch, we took another spin around the city, to see what it looked like in the day time. We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the main event – Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” at the Fitzgerald theater. If you’ve read my blog, you know how obsessed I have been with seeing this show live. It was a music heavy show with guests Ann Reed, My Brightest Diamond, and Heather Masse. I really enjoyed the Minnesota based Reed’s folk music, but the quirky songs of My Brightest Diamond, not so much – at first. By the end of the show she had won me over and we were humming her catchy tunes the whole way home. Heather Masse was gorgeous as always, but I did feel the show was a little heavy on the ballads, and I think a sketch or two was sacrificed for time. As always, his “News From Lake Wobegone” was rambling, yet comfortingly soothing.

After the show we headed to Broders’ Pasta Bar for dinner, where the wait was over an hour for a table. This was Matt and Joann’s favorite restaurant (and after the success of the Jucy Lucy the night before) we trusted their judgement. While waiting, it occurred that I didn’t have my phone on me. Before the phantom limb pain could set in, we headed out to the car, but it was not there. No, it had fallen into the middle of the street. Fearing the worst, I picked it up, and except for some dirty tire treads on the case, the phone was fine. Thank you Speck!!

Dinner was amazing, and the conversation and wine flowed wonderfully. It had been a long day, so we went to turn in. Thankfully, the construction crews took Sunday off, so we got a decent night’s sleep.

The next day was Mall of America Day. Now, for some folks with MS, malls can be difficult. All of the visual stimulation causes my double vision to flare up. Add in a ferris wheel, roller coaster, and 520 shops and I was blind in 5 minutes. I still loved it. Highlights were the Legoland Store, seeing Michael Oher (of The Blind Side fame) and the Sephora store. There was a ton of things we didn’t get to see – I understand now how you could easily spend 2-3 days there.

As our Minnesota adventure was wrapping up, Matthew and I remarked on how true everything we had heard about Minnesota was. The people were all extremely nice, the culture interesting, and that the best place to enjoy the weather was indoors. I was happy to check off an item on my Big Adventure List, while also doing some fun activities that were unplanned. I highly recommend you visit Minnesota (maybe in the summer) and if you get a chance to do any of the things we did, you are sure to have a blast!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: