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Berkley resident shows off talent on Fox's "Superhuman" special
John Bieniek knew he had a special talent when he was young.
He just didn't know it was Stereoscopic Vision.
"It's hard to explain; basically I'm able to recognize differences in pattern very quickly," recalls the Warren-raised Bieniek, 33, who now resides in Berkley. He'll be featured on Monday's (Jan. 4) "Superhuman," a Fox TV special in which he competes against 11 other contestants with unique skills for a $100,000 prize. .
"It all started when I was a kid. Back then there were these 3-D puzzles, Magic Eye puzzles, you'd find at a kiosk in the mall. They'd have hidden pictures within them. My mom got me a book when I was a kid...and something kind of clicked in my mind where I noticed all these patterns in the pictures and If I kind of concentrated the patterns would overlap in my mind and create that 3-D effect.
"I didn't quite get it at first, but pretty soon it became second-nature to me, and I've been able to do it ever since. I kind of take it for granted now, but when I show people, they're pretty impressed."
Bieniek, who works as an in-house IT consultant for the Ford Motor Co., has never investigated why he can see as he does. But it has proven to be a fun advantage for everything from activities in magazines to bar games such as Photo Hunt. "When I was in college (at Michigan State) people would challenge me, thinking they were pretty good at it, but there hasn't been a game I wasn't able to get top score on -- pretty fast, too," he says.
The Stereoscopic Vision means Bieniek doesn't have to wear glasses in 3-D movies, and it's proven helpful in some of his jobs in the computer field. "For my last job I was doing coding for web pages," he explains, "and I would be able to compare different codes very quickly and be able to tell if something was wrong and recognize where the issue was almost instantly."
He never parlayed the skill into financial gain, however. "I'd consider myself a ringer if I did that," Bieniek says. "I'd love to find someone who'd give me a run for my money, but that hasn't happened yet."
Bieniek taped "Superhuman, hosted by actor/activist Kal Penn -- of TV's "House" and the "Harold & Kumar" film series -- during late June and July in Los Angeles, with some background footage done in the Detroit area. He is, of course, prohibited from saying how well he did.
"Everyone had a special mental talent, and we were each given a talent," Bieniek says. The contestants went head-to-head against each other with a studio audience vote determining the winner of the round. Regardless of how he did, Bieniek says it was "a really great experience," from Penn to the production crew.
"I've never really done anything with TV, so it was a great way to learn how things are run and things are shot," he says. "It was definitely a learning experience, and Kal Penn was one of the nicest guys I've ever met, celebrity-wise. We did some filming here in Detroit, and in-between shooting and during practicing he would talk to me and really put me at ease. I was little nervous up on stage, talking with him, but it was a really fun experience."
8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4.
Fox TV, WJBK in Detroit.
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