Note ye ed's email address:

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

Mr. and Mrs. IBM.

July 2009

July is the traditional month for the big magic club conventions in the United States, and I hope everyone enjoyed the IBM and SAM gatherings, separate this year despite the enormously successful combined event of a year ago. Geography and personal interests led me to Nashville and the IBM, where I can report having an excellent time, and I hope Bruce Kalver and his band of SAM-ers had a similar good time later, in Buffalo. Along with a convention report is a look at Ed Marlo's most successful student, Bill Malone, presenting some of Ed's most commercial card tricks. A very nice July so far!

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort in Nashville is one of the most spectacular hotels I've experienced, with nine acres of indoor gardens, cascading waterfalls, pools, an indoor river with its own Delta flatboats, plenty of shopping and dining options, some 3000 guest rooms, and 600,000 square feet of meeting space, the largest of any non-gaming hotel in the world, enough space over the Fourth of July week to accommodate a Filipino wedding, a meeting of the APS Physics Topical Group on Shock Compression of Condensed Matter, several thousand attendees of the North American Irish Dance Championships (little girls in wigs of ringlets performing nonstop Riverdance moves), and seven hundred plus magicians in town for the International Brotherhood of Magicians annual convention. Strange bedfellows indeed. What follows is a look at things that stood out for me, and my apologies in advance to anyone not named or mentioned: I enjoyed virtually every event that I attended. Congratulations to Joan Caesar and the convention committee for a terrific five days.

J.C. Wagner

J.C. WAGNER -- J.C. Wagner was, for me, the talent draw for this convention, and he didn't disappoint. J.C. lectured, performed close-up, and hung out with everyone, performing and teaching in casual moments as well as formal ones. All his magic features the clean, clear plots that characterize the best in bar magic, all with unique touches. It was particularly cool to see him perform estimation tricks or Trick That Cannot Be Explained type tricks and then pull off amazing finales. Is anyone coming along of the razzmatazz younger generation that understands the need for and entertainment value of such straightforward miracles?

CHARLIE FRYE AND SHERRY -- Charlie Frye was the reason I uncharacteristically shelled out 45 dollars on a banquet, a bargain price to see the best specialty act in the business. Charlie also lectured with killer material from his "Eccentricks" column and closed the show on the night of the stage contest. For anyone unfamiliar with this duo, Charlie plays the Chaplinesque magician-juggler-clown with Sherry as his bored and beautiful assistant. It's been said that Charlie attended clown school, and his act is a PhD dissertation on clowning. It's incredible that one person could think up so many gags, much less acquire the skills to present them. Disney should offer this act a name-your-price lifetime contract. Meanwhile, magicians are advised to pick up Charlie's DVDs or his new book, The Eccentricks Book, as well as check out his appearances on Youtube.

Charlie and Sherry


FORMALITIES -- OK, Charlie Frye wasn't the only reason I attended the banquet. I also wanted to see my friend Jack White inaugurated as the new IBM prez. Jack carved out a career in broadcasting with his million-dollar voice and handsome looks, and these assets along with his reputation as a magician and collector should serve him well for a year at the helm of the IBM. Add to the mix Jack's adorable wife, Lynn, as a classy and really nice First Lady. The IBM is in great hands.

INFORMALITIES -- The only disappointing thing about this magnificent hotel was that it didn't offer a natural focal point for after-hours congregating, as the Galt did last year with its suspended bar and 24-hour service. Nevertheless, moments arose. It was fun to meet all the nice magicians from Tennessee. It was fun to see Kozmo doing Matrix for the youngsters. (By the way, I subscribed to his reel magic DVD-zine this trip; you should too!) San Diego's Bob Ingalls has either become psychic in his old age or has purchased a very cool dice trick; he always knew which way a die was facing. It was great to catch up with Jason Latimer on his current and near-future plans: very exciting stuff. And the Strolling Olympics brought me face to face with the tag team duo of teen contestants Shin Lim and Micah Johnson; a great idea, guys, and well done! (By the way, I quite enjoyed Micah's close-up contest act.)

Mark Horowitz collects autograph seekers.

Juliana teaches a move.

THE ROY ACUFF EXPERIENCE -- Although the word Opryland conjures up images of the country music scene, its presence was far more subtle than I had envisioned. We did frequently walk past Roy Acuff's gun collection near the Dealers' Room, and the evening stage magic transpired at the Roy Acuff Theatre, a short walk from the hotel (and adjacent to the Opry Mills mall, with its movieplex, great restaurants, and big name outlets). Several bits about the theater impressed me. First, each night's wait for the show was made most entertaining by a live band playing country standards. Second, the opening night featured a black and white Legends of Magic slide show; the large black and white image of Doug Henning really got to me. And third, they let you pee! (Last year, gestapo-like ushers refused to let you return to your seat if you visited the restroom; this year, the powers that be were far more accommodating to the needs of mature magicians.)

DEALS AND MORE DEALS -- Many of the usual suspects were on hand -- Andy Greget with his traveling book collection, Bob Little with his unique offerings, Harry Allen with what seemed the whole darn Daytona Magic store, Mark Mason with a crowd of buyers, Losander with stuff that floats, including a new electronic candle for his tables. Me, I hung around the H&R Magic Books corner, where I was pleased to sign copies of The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts. Recipients are going to have the best Halloween ever. Trees fell in the Black Forest to supply all the newspapers Axel Hecklau tore and restored. This is a great routine, as was his bottle cap trick. Ray Witkowski showed off his fine line of Tabman tables and products. Fantasma drew my frequent attention with two amazingly magnetic half dollars, a nifty fire wallet, and a seemingly mathematical miracle called Trilogy. And Kelvin Chun featured the best magic trick of the convention, called Frozen Hand. You show a clear glass or bowl of water; spec can look as closely as he likes and there is nothing to see but water. You then talk about how cold your hand is, reach in, and come out with a hand full of ice cubes. Just as easily, they melt away to being clear water again when you drop them back in. This is a stunning effect that looks like real magic. (Full disclosure: stuff I went home with included the Malone/Marlo DVDs, Frozen Hand, a reel magic subscription, and a Pattrick Przysiecki close-up mat.)

Hottest trick.

Coolest trick.

NAMES TO CONJURE WITH -- Everyone on the shows was great, as were most of the lectures. As always, Rich Bloch and Stephen Bargatze were hilarious emcees. Rich managed to invoke the American flag without resorting to a full-stage flag backdrop, which must make his traveling easier (Rich also lectured to a full house). But Bargatze scored the biggest laughs by bringing on four of the little Riverdance girls. It was an inspired bit with Stephen disparaging the dance contest and the girls disparaging card tricks. They finally ran off the stage screaming when Stephen produced a pair of linking rings. Juliana Chen charmed us with a new stage act that involved parasols and a self-levitation, and she brought us to tears in her lecture about what it was like to grow up in China. (Later, she brought a degree of closure to her life story by appearing as one of the dragons in Shimada's act.) Mark Horowitz informed and entertained us with his lecture on magic sets and magicians in the comics, punctuated by frequent trivia questions with prizes to the winners. Great fun, except I didn't win anything, dammit. Hiyashi both lectured and performed, and he cracked me up with his linguistic comedy and he fooled me badly with his multi-phase Matrix routine. But I think if I were a newbie to magic, and didn't harbor any prejudices against magic either too new or too old, the acts that would have thrilled me the most (and in fact did, anyway) were Latimer's laser act and Shimada's parasol act with a three-dragon climax. These feature awesome visuals, of a type to haunt the imagination and to inspire one to seek such imagery in his own work. Shimada was honored for his fifty years in magic, and one of the nicest tributes was the full-page ad from the Losander family in the 44-page program. (Other stuff great to witness: Kyle Eschen's droll self image, Shoot Ogawa's Ninja Rings, Scott Land's Ballantine puppet. A surfeit of fine acts.)

Scenic indoors of the Opryland Resort.

ED MAR-LO, ED MAR-LO, ED MAR-LO -- I have mentioned before that the only DVDs I "allow" in my office are those of Bill Malone, David Regal, and Doc Eason, welcome for their extreme entertainment value. I now have to make room for a new set by Mr. Malone, the six volume Malone Meets Marlo from L&L. In classic L&L fashion, Bill performs for a live audience well populated with gorgeous babes (Louis knows a lot of girls!) and fellows so that you can see how the tricks really play. And do they play! Although we all know that Bill was an accomplished student of Marlo and that he is hilarious as a performer, these DVDs gave me new appreciation as to the scope of Bill's skills and his comedic range. Here are over 73 new tricks requiring a broad range of technique, and Bill sells each with fresh comedy presentations. And that's on top of the previous seven volumes of Bill Malone material from L&L. Just stunning, and virtually all of this can be done with an ordinary deck. Couple Bill's assets with some fine thinking by Ed Marlo and, assuming you are new to Marlo, you have a mother lode of new material. Some of the stuff is difficult (for example, Bill switches cards during a deal with a Benzais Cop, a move that is similar to Lennart Green's Snap Deal, tough for me to do), but much requires only intermediate sleight-of-hand work and a considerable number are self working. You'll shed very few tears working through this.

No, this isn't a scene from The View.

I was going to mention only five favorites among the wheat, but I waded through so much wheat that I'll extend it to a baker's dozen:

Almost Like Trick Cards -- An ace assembly with the aces and 12 indifferent cards. This one should fool you badly the first time you watch it.

Unexpected Prediction -- A sort of Trick That Cannot Be Explained arriving at a funny prediction. (I never knew Marlo was funny!)

Perfect Stop Trick -- I've been doing this self-working trick since high school. Nice to have new touches from Malone and Marlo.

One of six.

Mental Reverse -- One of five cards is mentally thought of. It leaves the packet and is suddenly reversed in the deck. Very easy.

Professional Ace Cutting -- Like a favorite Bob Irons trick in Roger's Thesaurus, but more clever and still quite easy. Looks like the real deal.

Marlo on the Memorized Deck -- Clever routines, the ones that inspired Simon Aronson, but the decks don't have to be memorized, just nicely stacked.

Miracle Ace Cutting -- This was on a previous Malone DVD and was one of my favorites. It virtually is the real thing.

Spectator Cuts and Counts Down to the Aces -- A self-working trick, but Bill "complicates" it by adding a Ravelli false shuffle (hard, but looks fantastic in his hands) and an Optical shuffle.

One Hand Control -- The aces are lost in the deck, you find them with one hand. This looks very impressive but is quite easy.

Bluff Sandwich -- The two sandwich cards start on top of the deck, a card is selected from the center, and it suddenly appears between that clever duo.

Just peek at a card.

Open Air Assembly -- This is the only hard one in my list, but it's a cool way of doing Open Travelers using only the four aces.

Spectator Cuts to the Aces -- Three fine methods. I was previously familiar with one, but the two new to me were awesome, doable.

Bluff Ace Assembly -- If you've ever wanted to do Slow Motion Aces but found Vernon's methods difficult, try this one. Very easy and looks great. Possibly my favorite in the series.

And so much more. Just great cutting to aces, ace assemblies, Triumphs, discoveries, all with a regular deck. $180 for the set from L&L Publishing or your favorite dealer. Don't even think about breaking up the set: you'll want them all.

See you at the beach!

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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