Meeting the Amazing Randi
You know who’s amazing? James Randi. Now that I think about it, I suppose that’s why he’s called The Amazing Randi. Huh. Go figure. If you don’t know who I’m talking about then let me give you a couple broad strokes. Randi is a retired performer who used to be a magician and a mentalist and currently heads the James Randi Educational Foundation. You may have heard of his Million Dollar Challenge, which offers a prize to anyone who can prove under scientific rigor that they have some type of extra-sensory perception. All you have to do is be able to say what it is you can do and under what laboratory conditions you can perform said talent. It’s been available for decades now. Guess how much the foundation has given away in the name of the challenge. That’s right. Zero.
Pretty awesome right? It’s great to know that someone is out there trying to prove that “real” psychics are more often than not, ridiculous amoral performers preying on people who miss their dead relatives deeply. In short, James Randi is one of my personal heroes.
And…I got to meet him at dinner the other night! It was a pre-Carl Sagan Day dinner in South Florida filled with skeptics and snapping dressers. (I was wearing a t-shirt. I probably should have been at the kid’s table.) My childhood hero was looking a little haggard but still impressively spry and hip considering not only his advanced age but also the fact that he is neck deep in a radiation battle with colon cancer.
I sat about eleven people away from him on an ‘L’ shaped tabled and spent most of dinner either talking to a painfully pompous guy next to me or candidly watching Randi’s every move. Finally, dinner ended and the time for the group to mingle was upon us.
I met a few very cool people (whose names escape me right now but I none the less enjoyed my conversations with) until finally I had made my way around to the man of the hour. Justin, the friend who took me to the dinner (and editor weirdthings.com) had worked with Randi recently on a couple of projects, so he made the introductions.
Up close Randi looked even more fragile, but considering the amount of respect and reverence I was carrying with me he might as well of been ten feet tall and dressed like the Beast Master, primed and ready to kick the collective asses of any people that dare insult his ferrets. Our lengthy discussion went a little something like this.
Justin: “Hi, Randi. This is my friend Brett. He spent two years traveling around America crossing crazy things off of a fifty item life list.”
Randi: “Oh! Look, they have food over there.”
(That’s what he said as he walked away…)
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