An Alberta (Canada) court heard the case of Matthew De Grood, who killed five young people attending a party in 2014. Mr. De Grood claims that at the time he believed the people he killed were werewolves, and his duty was to rid the world of them. Is he criminally responsible for their deaths? Or, at the time that he committed the crimes, did he suffer from a mental defect that should absolve him from responsibility? More here on the trial from the Washington Post.
Today (May 25, 2016), the judge found Mr. De Grood not criminally responsible for the deaths (National Post).
He will now be assessed and the authorities will make a decision concerning his treatment. More here from Global News.
Matthew De Grood's statement on his acts here, from the Calgary Sun.
Slate's' Ben Mathis-Lilley notes that the New York City Subway twitter account tweeted that "witch problems" caused problems on a line today. Of course it was "switch problems," but witch problems conjures up all kinds of wonderful images of black-clad denizens flitting about, casting spells on the metro. Nothing like a little otherworldly interference from those on broomsticks with official transportation. Does this give a new meaning to the phrase "Damn Yankees"?
According to the Independent, the magical caper film Now You See Me is getting not one but two sequels, both to be directed by Jon M. Chu. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine are all returning for the films. Lizzy Caplan is replacing Isla Fisher. The original film, released in 2013, was a box office hit, but received rather lukewarm reviews (I liked it, though!)
Recap: four magicians, played by Mr. Eisenberg, Mr. Harrrelson, Mr. Franco, and Ms. Fisher, are hired to carry out a number of amazing feats, including an amazing bank robbery. An FBI agent (Mr. Ruffalo) tries to crack the case with the assistance of an agent from INTERPOL (Melanie Laurent) and a magician who reveals other magicians' tricks (Mr. Freeman). The ending reveals the true reason for the magicians' motives and the real intent behind the agent's pursuit of the conjurors.
Now You See Me 2 is due in theaters June 10, 2016.
From the Guardian: news that a long-lost H. P. Lovecraft manuscript has surfaced. This one is of particular interest to magicians. It's a piece Harry Houdini asked Lovecraft to ghostwrite (a particularly appropriate term) for him; the subject is "The Cancer of Superstition." After Houdini died in 1926, Lovecraft abandoned the project because Houdini's widow Bess was no longer interested in pursuing it.
Ofcom, the UK regulatory broadcasting agency, has ruled that the Derren Brown program "Something Wicked This Way Comes," which aired on Sunday morning, December 6, 2015, breached two provisions of the Broadcasting Code. The program, based on Mr. Brown's 2006 stage show of the same name, breached Rule 1.13: “Dangerous behaviour, or the portrayal of dangerous behaviour, that is likely to be easily imitable by children in a manner that is harmful…must not be broadcast before the watershed…unless there is editorial justification” and Rule 1.14: “The most offensive language must not be broadcast before the Watershed." The agency received five complaints about the program.
Mr. Brown, a well-known illusionist and mentalist, used the "F" word several times during the program, at a time when children were likely to be watching. He also demonstrated several tricks which Ofcom deemed were likely to be dangerous if children imitated them. For example, he used a plastic bag to cover his head, and he walked on glass. He did show that these tricks did not harm him, but the Ofcom regulators found that because the program aired during the period when children were watching, and the network (UKTV) did not attempt to justify the airing of the program during that time period, the airing of the content with its explanatory material did not outweigh the danger to children. It did acknowledge that the network aired the program by error in the time period and that the network is putting safeguards in place to prevent such a mistake from happening again.
Allison Meier (Hyperallergic) discusses Matt Champion's new book Medieval Graffiti: The Lost Voices of England’s Churches (Ebury Press), and his discoveries of pre-Reformation marks and messages from the non-aristocracy on medieval church walls. These messages, says Dr. Champion, head of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey, tell us a lot, both about medieval belief and about social interaction. He also notes that these carvings, previously assumed to be the work of non-mainstream worshippers like Wiccans, for example, are actually more likely to be examples of medieval understandings of the world around them. "'[T]he fact that such finds often lead to them being ascribed to modern Wiccans, devil worshippers or hoaxers is a sign of just how mentally remote we are today from the commonplace beliefs of the medieval church.'"