The Centrifuge Brain Project, by Till Nowak.
Also visit the homepage of the Institute for Centrifugal Research.
Our plan, once we had settled into the room, was to find our way to dinner then the Penn & Teller show at The Rio. Google Maps claimed it was twenty minutes away on foot. Rookie mistake, though, to walk anywhere off-strip. Simply making our way from our room to the street turned out to be our first challenge. Oh Google maps, if only your maps contained the inside of the labyrinthine buildings that make up the cold heart of Vegas, as well as the eerily simplistic grid it’s built upon! Second mistake was to try and cut through Ceaser’s Palace, which looked simple from the outside, but as all roads lead to Rome, so do all halls lead you in intricate twists designed to drag your wallet past as many opportunities to spend money as can be engineered by the human mind. Thirty minutes later it was a victory to find ourselves precisely where we started.
Things became easier once we were back outside, especially once the Rio came into view. The walk was ugly, a rough, isolating half hour along a gritty highway, but any concerns we may have had about finding the place were squashed as soon as could see around Ceaser’s Palace. The building is not quite as large as many of the megaliths, but for what it lacks in overwhelming scale, (and do not mistake me, the Rio could still dwarf almost any building in Vancouver), it makes up in pure, unhindered tacky glam neon straight out of Tron, with external, glass walled elevators and racing stripes of hot red and blue lights that run the entire height of the building. Also featured: a ten story poster advertising Penn & Teller. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to see an advertisement in my life.
The theater was small, a simple black box set-up, with a plain wooden crate open on stage and a steady trickle of people walking up from the audience to inspect it. There was also an easel set up with an envelope on it, (pens provided to willing participants), the most traditional prop for a cold-reading trick. Penn stood to one side, playing jazz on an upright bass, riffing with a piano player who wore large plugs in the lobes of his ears and tattoos on both arms. It was unexpectedly casual. I liked it immediately and our seats were near perfect, centered in the room and close to the stage.
Absurd, political, sublime, or a prank, it didn’t matter, every trick was expertly executed with the same enviable dedication, the same graceful madness. It was an honor to be there, audience to masters of the craft.