GETTING LUCKY IN LAS VEGAS -- This year's WMS award money was topsy-turvy: the big bucks should have gone to the teenagers rather than the adults, for their contest was uniformly the more innovative and entertaining. First place fell to Shayna Reed with her Elvis act (it takes three Reed sisters to pull off the killer surprise ending, and Shayna's card manipulation caught many of us off guard; she did something so cool during her interlocked card production that I was thinking, "Okay, this is starting to piss me off!"). Second place fell to Sterling Dietz, last year's winner who returned with a new act featuring dazzling dance sequences with his very attractive partner (it never occurred to me, as a high school sophomore, to ask the cutest girl in the freshman class if she'd like to take a few months of dance lessons with me and then compete in Las Vegas). And third went home with Krystyn Lambert, a major cutie who takes billiard ball manipulation and Linking Rings into entertainment highs never dreamed of in classic texts or Chavez classes. Hers is a kicky, exciting act, and her Lean during the billiard balls was the highlight of the contest. Of the three winning acts, two and a half were female, and, as Lance said, "Chicks rule!" Overall, any of six acts could have taken first place and I wouldn't have been surprised, including in addition to the above a fantastic young man from Japan with a magical artist's palette and two acts from the College of Magic in South Africa. All delightful. Not to disparage the adults too much, kudos to Golden Lion Head winner Florian Zimmer from Germany who startled us with a midair bicycle production and to Sarmoti winner Pilou from France who charmed us with his dancing and manipulations.
COLUMBUS SCORECARD -- Ohio State has taken it on the chin so far this season, with a 26-point basketball loss and a 27-point football loss to Florida. Ouch. One more small hit: as to the 76th Columbus Magi-Fest, the low point (I skipped the contests, so stand to be corrected here) was easily the young lady who emceed the final evening's magic show. The grumbling in my section of the audience was intense. I do not blame her, for she was pretty and had pluck, but rather her enablers -- whatever family, friends, or magic club that had so thoroughly insulated her from modern humor and and modern magic that she had absolutely no clue as to how lame her material was. Someone should authorize an intervention. Nevertheless, as always, Magi-Fest is a fine gathering of magicians, and there was much to enjoy, especially the skill of young attendees with their lithe, moist fingers and the cleverness of older attendees. In particular I enjoyed Aldo Colombini's jokes, Lee Asher's Pulp Friction miracles, Michael Finney's lecture featuring his 1981 classic dove act (!), John Born's Linking Rings, Andy Dallas's Zombie routine, several dealer items (Josh Jay's Pro Carrier, Lee Asher's Invisible Ink, Tony Miller's wallets), Mike Powers' 21-Card trick, Tom Craven's impromptu rising card, Tom Hubbard's criss-cross cut, Daniel Garcia's (and friends') work with the impromptu haunted deck, Andy Greget's reminiscences about working at the Disneyland magic shops, and simply meeting Nick Trost. Lots of other great folks in attendance, such as Aaron Fisher, David Williamson, John Rogers, Nathan Kranzo, Jason Dean, the Reed girls, and all the other usual suspects. A fun weekend, and always run smoothly in the hands of the redcoats.
Belated Valentine's wishes to all, especially you female magicians and assistants who make magic look so swell and who make our male hearts beat faster. We love you! This month's issue looks at the 30th edition of the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas, the Columbus Magi-Fest, a novel (sort of) featuring Nevil Maskelyne, a new webzine from Andrew Mayne, and a card move from Brother John Hamman.
ALL-STAR WEEK IN LAS VEGAS -- The weekend that opened WMS was an absolute crush of humanity, with about 250,000 extra folks in town for the NBA All-Star game, only a few of whom could actually attend the game. The crowds led to two-hour waits for taxis, and the game itself evidenced its Las Vegas locale with an opening welcome from Siegfried and Roy, songs by Wayne Newton, and the national anthem by Danny Gans. Only in America. I spent Saturday evening at the Mirage, enjoying Cirque du Soleil's new Beatles production, LOVE. Just wonderful, with all the great Cirque visuals and all those great Beatles songs. I hope to see it again during MAGIC Live. Oh, yes: I also attended WMS XXX. Personal and public highlights included:
SHAZAM -- Thunderstruck, by Eric Larson, is a bestselling work of nonfiction that reads with all the gripping intensity of a novel, creating, according to its flyleaf, "a vibrant portrait of an era of seances, science, and fog, inhabited by inventors, magicians, and Scotland Yard detectives." The story follows the convergence of the invention of radio by Marconi and the grisly murder by Dr. Hawley Crippen, a murder second only to the Jack the Ripper murders in British notoriety. Of interest to magicians is that Nevil Maskelyne (Devant's partner) was not only a competing inventor of radio himself but attempted to sabotage one of Marconi's demonstrations. (Marconi was a screwball inventor if there ever was one, with no idea of what he was doing, and yet succeeded both financially and in the record books through sheer perseverance.) A fun read, available everywhere.
NEWSFLASH -- Andrew Mayne, known to most of you as an inventor of weird, highly workable material, has launched a daily magical news service at www.itricks.com. In addition to daily news on the site, the site offers video clips, podcasts, and interviews. The behind-the-scenes work is handled by Justin Young, a career journalist. This is a very nice resource at which you can waste a lot of time. Check it out. (I'll be posting it in the Magazines links.)
UNDER THE RADAR -- Books, magazines, e-books, web sites, and dvds dispense hundreds of tricks annually, many of them fine, many not. Occasionally something very, very sweet slips into this stream, one of which is "Brother John Hamman on Culling," which appeared in Joshua Jay's column in the February 2007 issue of MAGIC. This is a very deceptive no-sleight cull of, say, four aces, or, if you wish, four aces set up for a poker deal. It will take a bit of thinking to justify your simple actions, but that should be no problem.
Spend some time with your mom.
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.
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.
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