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man.ray
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I've always wondered whether Houdini could actually dislocate his shoulders or that was part of his way of marketing and making himself a legend which in itself was genius.
Ian McColl
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Hi According to James Randi not he couldn't. According to my doctor who I asked about this subject, he said that if you could dislocate your shoulder, apart from the intense pain, you would weaken the muscles and ligaments so you shoulder would drop out when you didn't want it to.
Persoanlly I believe he couldn't also, but the people above know better than I.

Ian
(and aslo there is never a filing cabinet around when you want one )(Mel Gibson and SSJ escape)
Riley
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I agree with Ian.
Many of the tales that Houdini put out were designed to misdirect the public and also sidetrack the competition (or his "imitators" as he called them). Even in his book "Handcuff Secrets" - although a very interesting book - the descriptions (and illustrations!) are often more misleading than helpful - ie., why illustrate a shim on a pair of Towers? Why not a pair of 'Pinkertons' instead? So, the 'dislocated shoulder' story is a good one to discourage SJ workers, whether serious or curious!
Some of the books written about Houdini's methods don't help - in some cases the writers seemed to believe the stories themselves!

Riley
Stuart Burrell
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There was a word used in the early 1920's which was based on Houdini's descriptions of his escapes....I appologise if I am spelling it wrong but the word was 'Houdinise' and meant to "Wriggle and contort out of somthing" and was based on the dislocating shoulder story.
Ian McColl
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Dear Riley, I will agree with you on several or in fact many of the escapes explained in several books on Houdini are misleading. Some of the details on how Houdini did his escapes, boxes, cystral caskets etc were not written I think as to be misleading or add to the mystery. They were written by someone who didn't actually know and made up the material from thier own imagination.

Mechanically, many just wouldn't work in part or in the whole. The best one 'off the top of my head' is the boiler container with threaded bolt heads. Replacement bolts pulled back through with a piece of string. Apart from trying to undo a fake bolt head while the whole bolt turns, try pulling a bolt back through a hole drill in a piece of material. Nigh on impossible.

At least most of the escape make you think but never take them as literal and actuall work through the escape and see if each pieces works on it's own and then as the whole escape.

Ian
The Donster
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Stuart I beleive the Correct Spelling your Looking for is Spelled. Houdinize from what I heard it was put in a Dictionary in the 1920's. I'm not trying to correct someone just helping someone who has been nice enough to help me out. Don,
Ian McColl
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Back in the 1920's it was 'Houdinize'
According to my modern big dic.The new penguin English dictionary the verb is now just "houdini" eg the hamster had done a Houdini, - bitten through his cage and disappeared"

Ian
DavidEscapes
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Hi Ian

A few months ago I would have agreed with you about the pain etc of dislocating the shoulder. However I recently had shoulder surgery to repair damage to my collar bone and ligaments and it resulted in an unusual discovery.

I was a awake for the op and watching it on a TV screen. The surgeon said, "I thought you told me you had never dislocated your shoulder", I confirmed that I hadn't, and he said, in that case, look at this. He moved the camera over the completely round surface of my shoulder joint, completely round that is until he got to the top. Where it was totally flat, it have been worn down due to dislocations. After the op the surgeon told me that the damage was the result of multiple shoulder dislocations, ten or more was his guess, and was amazed that I was not aware they had happened.

I know that I used to hyperextend my shoulders during a trapeze move which is fittingly called, 'the dislocation', I was always able to take the move further than anyone else I worked with. So my best guess is that it was that which caused the dislocations. I was pulling out my shoulder, then relocating it without even noticing.

Lastly, the surgeon also noted that the ligaments were not overly flexable, and they were holding the shoulder firmly in place, so my shoulder is unlikely to pop out easily in the future.
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Riley
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Quote:
On 2004-03-27 06:25, trunk8 wrote:
Some of the details on how Houdini did his escapes, boxes, cystral caskets etc were not written I think as to be misleading or add to the mystery. They were written by someone who didn't actually know and made up the material from thier own imagination.

Mechanically, many just wouldn't work in part or in the whole. The best one 'off the top of my head' is the boiler container with threaded bolt heads. Replacement bolts pulled back through with a piece of string.


It was Walter Gibson who commented on the shoulder dislocation thing, and also the bolt business Ian mentions above. Gibson wrote "the method of replacing the bolts is not given in the notes on this escape, but the detail is not difficult to supply.." Mr Gibson then goes on to describe the business with the string, including an illustration!! As you say, Ian, it wouldn't work. A good magnet would work better! It is known that Mr Gibson was really working from Houdini's rough notes, and I think his knowledge of the working methods of an escape artist were not as great as his ability with the written word.
Not very helpful, sometimes, to todays EA.

Riley
Ian McColl
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Hi David, fact is stranger than fiction. What more can I say apart from I bet your shoulders going to give you heaps of trouble when you get to my age. Take care of it while your young and it should last a life time.

Riley, I think Gibson would have had a hard time making sense of Houdini notes ( although I have never seen Houdini note books) I think they might be similar to many others note books, small bit of information to jog the memory and not much detail. If I was to give my note book to someone else, I am not sure they would make much sense of most of the information, as I know what I am thinking while I write, I don't get to detailed.

Have you ever done a patent search over there for the Milk Can Houdini patented while in England??

Ian
Riley
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Hi Ian

You're right about the notebooks. Apparently HH was a writers nightmare, scraps scribbled on bits of paper, rough sketches, "shorthand" and the authors own abbreviations etc. And Walter Gibson did much of the writing after HH's death.
A certain man (DD-V) also wrote in the same way, but at least at the time I could phone him and talk it through!!
I've never done a patent search re the milk can.

David Straitjacket: Your post very interesting. I quit the SJ a few years back (I'm now 51), remembering the HH ruptured a blood vessel in one of his kidneys when in his forties. I think the SJ escape is definitely for younger EA's and it's important to know when to quit. If the accounts of HH's death are factual (the punch in the abdomen etc) then maybe certain stunts should be avoided when a EA is at the late end of 40 or early end of 50.

Riley
DavidEscapes
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Hi Ian

My shoulder gives me heaps of trouble already. The injury which led to the op screwed it up pretty badly.

Riley, I had never heard of Houdini rupturing a blood vessel before. There could well have been an outside cause though?

I tried to clear up some of the Myths surrounding Houdini's death on a national TV piece earlier this year. I had to give a 5 minute talk about Houdini and his Death was the focus of it. The punch in the stomach is largely considered to be unrelated to his death, rather he already had appendicitis which he put down to a stomach infection, this coupled with the fact that he was performing with a broken ankle, which would have distracted him from his stomach pain, meant that peritonitis had set in before he saw a doctor, by which time it was already too late.

An unusual feature of appendicitis is that when it is too late, I.E. the appendix has already burst, the pain subsides due to the release of the pressure caused by the swollen appendix. Therefore Houdini's stomach pain woulkd have largely vanished and he would have thought he was on the mend. However the bursting of the appendix causes faecal matter to enter the stomach causing massive infection. A nasty way to go Smile

David
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Stuart Burrell
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No problem with regards to the correction, thank you to both Don and Ian for the correct spelling for Houdinize.

Also some UK Pattents can eb found on line although I do not think the Milk Can is one of them.
KingStardog
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A very interesting discussion. Many of the folks that I have done a jacket for have enquired about a dislocation and I would have to conclude most everyone doing it has had the same inquiries. I have not had either jacket very long at all, so that's not a long history of jacket escapes to draw from.

I get the impression this old story was to keep other folks away from the escape through intimidation.

When asked directly, I use a combination statement that predisposes a reaction of Fear and pain.

Q. I heard that you have to dislocate your shoulder(s) to escape, is that true?
A. If one was to watch for the actual dislocation during the escape it will give them a very uncomfortable feeling and a sympathic, deep, cutting pain when they actualy see it.

Their Reaction.
Will they see it? Yes.
Will they feel it? Yes.
Will other spectators observe and buy into the
reaction? Usualy some will,not always, but when it happens its like the wave at a ball game.

The reality.
Will they see it? No. I have not to my knowledge ever done a dislocate. I generate the reaction for the suggestions after the armstrap is free and as I pull an arm into the body of the jacket. When I do this part I turn that portion away from veiw and clearly state "That if they are even a little squeamish they may want to look away for for a few seconds".

Will they feel it? Yes, some will depending on their level of suggestability, if it was a genuine question to start with, and they place you in the position of being an expert in what you are doing. At the moment the statement is made and the body is turned the suggested person recieves the queue.

I'm no big study on NLP or hypnosis, although I have about a foot thick pile of books on both subjects, I don't spend any time reading them, so I can't say its any kind of technique at all. Mostly a play on fears that already exist and a suggestion.

Well that's what I have been doing. Should I not do it? If so why not?

How do the rest of you answer when asked?
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
EscapeMaster
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The only UK Houdini patent online is for improvements to the diver's suit. It was accepted in 1918 when Houdini was at 394, East 21st St., NY. The patent number is: GB117678.

There are a number of American patents baring his name/signature. They are of little interest although this rather means they are slightly unexpected; such as a patent awarded in the year of Houdini's death for a Chinese figure doll.

The difficulty here is that patents prior to 1975 can only be searched by patent number and it is therefore impossible to serach by the name Houdini.

I hope this is of some mild interest.

Steve

P.S. Some may be intrigued to hear of a bicycle inventor who used to take out patents during Houdini's era. His name was Santini.
Reis O'Brien
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The old dislocated shoulder story is far from the more odd that I have read about Houdini. From what I've read, at one point in his career, a rumor started going around that he could physically "dematerialize" from his bonds behind the curtain. Apparently, people really believed this. And I'm sure old Harry himself didn't go out of his way to squash this rumor, either.
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EscapeMaster
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Dear Firedice27,

I think I would be correct in saying, while a large number of people probably thought this, it was drawn to the public's greater attention because Sir Arhtur Conan Doyle (Sherklock Holmes author) announced this as the only feasible way he could conceive Houdini making his escapes.

Doyle was a fervent believer in spiritualism but more of that elsewhere.

As you say, Houdini was unlikely to rubbish such publicity but is quoted in a number of press reports as saying that he accomplished everything he did through physical means alone.

Yours,

Steve.
man.ray
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I remember seeing an illustration or lithograph of somekind that showed Houdini as a spirit escaping a coffin. I'm not sure but I think it was used for publicity and could very well also have added to all the outlandish rumors.

-Raymond
x-treem
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Man.Ray, the poster you refer too is Houdini's Buried Alive poster, I believe.
A direct from text adaptation : The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Starring Mickey Rooney in his final role.
Ian McColl
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Dear Steve (escapemaster), Good to see you back at the board, did you get my PM?

The only refernce I have for the patent on the milk can is a picture in Silvermans book Houdini!!!.

I really wanted to read the whole patent, unfortunately I cannot help with a patent number.

Ian
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