Steel on the menu at sword swallowers’ sideshow

Updated 26 February 2013
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Steel on the menu at sword swallowers’ sideshow

George the Giant, towering over onlookers gathered to see performers swallow steel, hammers a 6-1/2 inch (16.5 cm) nail up his nostril, rips a phone book in half with his bare hands and dangles a full bottle of Coke from his eyelids with fish hooks.
The world’s tallest sword swallower, at 7 feet 3 inches, he was under strict doctor’s orders not to participate in the main event at the 6th Annual “World Sword Swallower’s Day” due to an unrelated injury, but remained intent on pleasing the crowd.
He was among performers on Hollywood Boulevard outside of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! on Saturday for a death-defying show that would ultimately see 6 meters of metal swallowed simultaneously by some of America’s best sword swallowers.
“Every time you swallow a sword you’re cheating death,” George said of the art he’s practiced for the past two decades. The longest sword he’s swallowed was 33 inches long and one and a half inches wide. “It’s a rush to watch people as they watch you do these things that others can’t do.”
As these professionals threw their heads back and “dropped sword,” the adrenaline pumped from the performers out into the Hollywood crowd as they excitedly cheered.
With preparations for Sunday’s Academy Awards show under way across the street, about 100 passers-by gathered with anticipation as the performers swallowed steel.
Amy Amnesia, a 32-year-old performer, told Reuters this was her first public appearance. Explaining that the minimum requirements were for swords 14 inches long and a half-inch wide, she said her particular sword of choice is 19 inches.
“You have to get your body used to this new paradigm of having a large solid object down your throat,” she said, explaining that she had only recently learned the art.
Ripley’s, which sponsored the event along with the Sword Swallowers Association International, has supported the sword- swallowing community for 80 years, and such events have made contributions to medicine and science by raising money for esophageal cancer research.
According to Ripley’s General Manager and new sword swallowing trainee Andrea Silverman, the best way to learn is to first start training with a wire coat hanger.
“The average person takes six months to get comfortable and a year before their first performance,” she said.
Brett Loudermilk, 24, first learned to swallow swords when he was 15 years old, saying he “started out with a cake spatula and then moved to a wire coat hanger.”

Why does Loudermilk perform? “It’s great providing people with a sense of wonder.”


‘Game of Thrones’ author George R.R. Martin announces new book

Updated 15 min 13 sec ago
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‘Game of Thrones’ author George R.R. Martin announces new book

NEW YORK: American author George R.R. Martin Wednesday announced a new book to be released in November — but fans may be disappointed to learn it’s not the highly-anticipated sixth installment of the hit “Game of Thrones” saga.
“Fire and Blood” is set several centuries before “Game of Thrones” in the same fantasy world of Westeros, the author said on his blog. Martin stressed it is not a novel, but rather a historical text setting out the history of Westeros’ Targaryen dynasty.
Since 2012, the author has published several passages from the new book. Publisher Bantam Spectra did not respond to a request for comment about the upcoming release, but the book is already available for presale online
As for the sixth “Game of Thrones” book — “The Winds of Winter” — Martin said: “No, winter is not coming... not in 2018, at least.”
Between 1996 and 2011, Martin published five volumes of the “Game of Thrones” series — letting six years pass between the fourth and fifth.
Since the sixth season of the phenomenally popular television show based on the series, the writers have not directly relied on Martin’s books — and in any case, producer HBO took many liberties with the original story in previous seasons.
The series — whose eighth and final season is expected in 2019 — has already scooped up a record 38 Emmy Awards.