Note ye ed's email address:

Finally unearthed: The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts from H&R Magic Books.
It's to die for!

No, kiddies, it's NOT Santa Claus.

December 2008

Merry Christmas! We depart from our usual format, a little, with a look at the year past, present, and future. As always, the year has served up its gains and losses. I hesitate to dwell on the latter, but the one that still affects me most in magic is the loss of Roger Klause. Roger meant so much to so many, and we all miss him. Aloha, to the master. But to the gains: we fondly recall the best conventions, books, and multimedia events of 2008, we consider the best things to buy with one more shopping day until Christmas, and we dream of sugarplum secrets and happenings to be shared and enjoyed in 2009.

My personal Life in Magic 2008 was rather overwhelming, with portions of conventions, literature, and multimedia offerings too large and too frequent to properly digest, but who's complaining? My favorite conventions included Magi-Fest (John Lovick the highlight), MCA Weekend (Harry Anderson the highlight), and the marathon IBM/SAM combined convention in Louisville (hanging with friends the highlight). Despite cries that there is no market left for magic books, the magic press keeps churning them out, and good ones. Three of the four projected Bruce Cervon Castle Notebooks volumes have now appeared, offering an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall inside look at what was going on at the Magic Castle during the golden Dai Vernon sixties. (Don't overlook a great self-working poker deal in Volume III, "Spec Finds Poker Hand.") Spins and Needles beautifully compiled the creative efforts of Allan Slaight, and then came the two whopper volumes, Revelation by Dai Vernon and Zarrow by David Ben. These are extraordinary artistic, intellectual, and physical presences, testaments to the fact that books will always outclass electronic alternatives. This is not to say that I did not greatly enjoy a few twenty-first century alternatives this year. Kozmo's reel magic quarterly DVDs provided serious entertainment at seriously reasonable prices. Dodd Vickers' Magic Newswire podcasts became a frequent adjunct to my daily exercise regimen, allowing me to enjoy magic interviews on my iPod Touch as I worked out at the gym. And then there were those guys at, with their middle-of-the-night (in Indiana) live feeds from Las Vegas. I've enjoyed broadcasts from Jeff McBride's Wonderground, several from Gary Darwin's magic club (including a strong lecture/performance by 97-year-old John Calvert that I finally had to abandon at 3:00 a.m.), and even one on which I appeared, performing stuff from The Little Egypt Book of Numbers alongside Mike Powers. Cool! Pad all this with twelve fat, on-time issues of Genii, MAGIC, and MUM, and it was a pretty good year of magic.

Middle of the night lecturer, John Calvert.

The hot item around the Little Egypt Magic office complex this December is The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts, which finally found its way to customers in the dead of night this month, darkening enough doorsteps that Richard Hatch announced that H&R sold over half the print run the first week. Thanks to some heavy-duty software and to some great format decisions by Charlie Randall, the book came out looking pretty spiffy; if you like scary magic tricks, this is the book for you. For other last-minute shopping ideas, note that Genii is offering 25 percent off the price of all its books through the end of the year, a fantastic deal. And even this deal is topped by Genii's long-standing offer of The Vernon Touch for only $15 (with a three-year subscription). This is a lavish compilation of Vernon's columns in Genii, just beautifully laid out and enhanced by hundreds of rare Vernon photos. A treasure. And finally, Restoration Hardware is once again offering a black art table, for the kid in your house or the kid in you ($60 on sale for $47 as of this writing).

Restoration Hardware's magic table.

The year 2009 brims with magical promise. Some of the following are real (that is, scheduled, or at least in the works), and some are simply wishes on my part. Nevertheless, my headline predictions for 2009 include:

  • The Magic Castle will host special events: "A Night with Richard B. Sherman" (Richard will be joined by three vocalists for a caberet show of his music in the Inner Circle); "The Magic Castle Goes Plaid" (Mac King will perform his full Las Vegas show in the Palace of Mystery, an extra-pay charity event -- I read this as "Mac lost some wacky bet to Castle booker Max Maven"); and the Magic Castle awards banquet (Neil Patrick Harris will host a 90-minute award show sandwiched by cocktail parties).
  • The Magic Castle will regain its food and beverage autonomy in a generous new lease arrangement with magic-loving new landlords. Some guys will still complain about the food.
  • Eugene Burger will teach a $100 master class on "The Trick that Cannot Be Explained."
  • Richard Kaufman will publish Mr. Jennings Takes It Easy, the second volume of his Jennings trilogy.
  • Richard Kaufman will publish Magicana -- the Charlie Miller Years. This fat volume of parlor and close-up tricks, along with Charlie Miller's wisdom, will rival Jim Steinmeyer's A Conjuring Anthology as one of the most fertile magic books of the decade.
  • Maleficent, Vixen, Spike, and I will attend Mary Poppins in Chicago, to enjoy Richard Sherman's music and Jim Steinmeyer's magic.
  • Mickey Silver will release a DVD teaching the real work on his Retention Vanish.
  • Hermetic Press will publish The Complete Tom Stone.
  • Hermetic Press will publish The Complete Jack Birnman.
  • Lee Asher will publish Everything You Wanted to Know About Pulp Friction. Lee has often fried me with this remarkable tool.
  • MAGIC Live IV will top its predecessors and FISM China. Stan promises not to fake the fireworks with CG.

Enough. I could get crazy here, but this is the Christmas installment, not the April Fool installment. I wish you all a delightful holiday season and the best of everything for the coming year. Peace and love.

Mary Poppins on tour.

Peace on Earth, good will to men.

Sarah and Simon (Vixen and Spike to old Gazette readers) were married on April 1, 2006. You may access their wedding photos at wedding photos. You may view early movies and photo spreads of their charming spawn at Audrey Elizabeth Beverton.

Little Egypt Magic is the erratically updated web site of Steve Bryant, spawned (the site, not Steve) by a former internet magazine known as The Little Egypt Gazette/for magicians only.

Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from an iMac in Bloomington, Indiana. He frequently journeys to and performs magic in Little Egypt, the local name for extreme southern Illinois, where the towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak.

Past issues of this web site: Index to Past Issues

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Copyright© 2008 by Steve Bryant