Hat tricks, bags of tricks, missing tricks, turning tricks. Stuffed sleeves, old dogs, modestly skilled ponies – our idiom is riddled with tricks.
A trick can be a hoax or a gimmick, or it can be an act of conjuring or contortion. It's a word that deals in duplicity and fraud. But it also signifies dexterity, ingenuity and finesse!
For this bumper edition of Notes, we've summoned writing about many forms of secret skill and trickery. Ivy Shih explores the surprising scientific afterlife of the Tasmanian tiger. Isabella Trimboli reflects on the utility of useless life hacks. Chris Somerville frets over his doppelgänger. Angelina Hurley testifies to real and unreal family miracles. And an anonymous tech guy tells us what happens backstage at illusion and circus shows.
Plus, there's more on scams, stunts, hacks, marvels, miracles, superstition, cheating and double-dealing from our archives.
For this edition of Notes, we're taking our cue from a word that carries no small degree of ambivalence: sell.
Think hustling, hawking, peddling and trading. What is it to sell up or sell out? What do you lose – or gain – when you sell your soul, your youth, your image, your ... stuff? How are we thrilled and tainted by the prospect of big and small sales?
In 'Sell', Masako Fukui reflects on the first Japanese women who came to Australia in the 19th Century, 'selling spring'. Scott Limbrick asks what happened to the stigma of selling out. Michele Lee contemplates the link between big sales and life milestones. And we meet an anonymous big-bank financial adviser who quit his job amid the crushing sales culture.
At the 2018 World Cup, English striker Dele Alli has been wearing the same 'lucky' shin pads he first wore as an 11-year-old. Serena Williams wears the same pair of socks from the beginning to the end of any Grand Slam tournament. Brazilian martial artist Lyoto Machida drinks his own urine to get an edge on his rivals.
For some people, the drive to win, to be the best, inspires some strange behaviour. Why do some of us crave victory more than others? What does it mean to win, and what happens when we shift the goalposts?
In 'Win', Jane Howard considers changing definitions of fairness in the world of elite sport. Alex McClintock reflects on the psychological manipulation of pokie machines, and Shannon Hick shares a tale of McDonald's workers on their own Olympic journey. And an anonymous reality TV casting producer divulges techniques for finding the perfect heroes and villains.
Hush. It's a moody, evocative word. It's a word we hear more often in verse than in regular speech. It was the name of an Australian Seventies glam-rock band. It's the name of a fruity eau de toilette. And it's the name of the first edition of the Wheeler Centre's relaunched Notes.
With ‘Hush’, we're bringing you writing on stifled sound, shushed shouts and stealth work. Stuart Kells considers noise and silence in the history of public libraries, Zoe Norton Lodge swallows her screams and Santilla Chingaipe reflects on a deferred national discussion. And in the first of a new series of anonymous interviews, a private investigator reflects on a career of sneaky secret surveillance.