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Indianapolis, where cars and magic meet.
Last month's June issue considered John Hostler's Magnum Opossum, Dan and Dave's Art of Magic web site, and Joe Stevens' Gemini Archives.
This issue is dedicated to my young pal Charlie, who had his tonsils out a week ago --yes, that is still sometimes necessary -- and with whom I spent a few days before catching the final day of the SAM convention in Indianapolis, just an hour away. Thanks to everyone who spent time with me or performed your favorite miracles.
Also up for consideration this month: Raj Madhok's Mysteriouser and Mysteriouser, Lewis Jones's Top Deck, Angel Idigoras' Adventures of 51 magicians and a fakir, a cool journal from Penguin Magic, and library videos from the Magic Castle.
One of those I spent time with was Stan Allen, whose interview by Mike Caveney was reported as a highlight of the SAM days I missed, and who is putting together his own 25th anniversary party in a few weeks. Hope to see you all there.
Meanwhile, the big bookstores are now taking pre-orders for McGrave's Hotel. Spooky! You can make reservations today.
A DAY AT THE RACES -- The SAM faithful, ranging from old guys in suits with lots of fraternal bling to young girls with long, long hair, descended on Indianapolis for their annual convention this month, and there was even a race in honor of the locale. Although the numbers were disappointingly small, especially for the dealers, small conventions make for friendly conventions, and from what I heard and witnessed, a fine time was had.
I merely heard about the first few days, as family matters kept me away until the final day's round of lectures and gala acts, and I therefore attempted to fit four days of fun into one. I darn near succeeded.
A few highlights:
A big shoutout to Patrick Smith for parking his gorgeously detailed auto in the lobby of the Downtown Mariott. Check out the accompanying photos.
The Castle looks great in automotive detail.
Conventioneers love awards, and while I typically don't (in or out of magic), it was a treat to see Harry Riser elected to the SAM Hall of Fame. Mike Close and others, including many big hames via video, showered the home town hero with warm words. Thanks to Tom Gagnon for getting the ball rolling on this one.
Harry Riser props.
Two fine lectures, one from Rocco, the other from Franz Harary. I liked Rocco's jumbo version of Slydini's Mystery of the Gold Pins, his smooth execution of Slydini's Newspapaer Tear, and miracles performed via his Ultimate Sleeving Device. Franz meanwhile provided a verbal and video whirlwind tour of his mega-illusion career in China, an exceedingly impressive life. The scale of what he does is staggering, and it all seems to emanate from a really nice guy with no ego issues.
It wouldn't be a convention, even a one-day convention, without a magic show, and I greatly enjoyed the gala tribute show to Hank Moorehouse. Among favorite acts, emcee Mike Caveney, looking dapper as ever in his houndstooth jacket, rated huge laughs and applause with his Coffee Juggling, Bow & Arrow, and Magic Paper. Mike's scripts are brilliant, the best in the business, but it was even more fun this night to watch Mike adlib (apparently, as that is how a seasoned pro makes it look) regarding a glitchy microphone. With no words at all, Tina also graced the stage, with her Serpent Silk/Rings/Bunny act, just lovely.
And much more. Christopher Hart opened the show with his iconic Music and Thing (disembodied hand) act, a longtime favorite of mine. The Great Kaplan scored the first standing ovation with his Bowling Balls from the Sky turn, and what can you say about Harrison Greenbaum? He clawed his way into my awareness at Magi-fest and was just as funny this time. No one gets more from the hoary Mental Epic and Baby Gag, and he throws the best hissy fit in magic.
Vintage props from Andy Greget.
But I go to magic conventions not for the above, no matter how great the talent level, but to hang and session with friends, old and new. A delight to hook up again with Mike and Pat Perovich, Bill and Becki Wells, Stan Allen, Gene Anderson, Meir Yedid, Andy Greget, and Tom Gagnon. To watch Caleb Wiles achieve sympathetic cards out of a total mess. To watch Mike Close mine magic from the Aronson stack. To be reduced to laughter watching a guy change three jokers and a queen to, well, three jokers and a queen. To watch a kid named Eddie startle us with a fifteen of diamonds. To watch Theron Schaub fry us with an original OOTW and Texas Hold 'Em routine. Thanks to all (and I certainly didn't mention everyone), and I hope to see you again in Louisville. But first, MAGIC Live!
By the way, I had the opportunity to chat with a few magicians about their books. In case you are new to this web site, do yourself a favor and visit my reviews of Gene Anderson's The Book and Newspaper Magic, Mike Caveney's Wonders and The Conference Illusions, and Mike Perovich's The Vernon Companion. These books are just wonderful.
Back when Indy had a fab restaurant.
NINE STORIES -- I'm borrowing a title from J.D. Salinger here to acknowledge the author's decision to publish nine gems rather than a much larger collection of varying quality. The author is Raj Madhok and his book is Mysteriouser and Mysteriouser. In fairness, Raj alludes more to Lewis Caroll than to Salinger, and he makes the bold claim: "Mentalism. Nine curiosities. Each more mysterious than the one before."
Curiouser and curiouser.
I'll mention a few and note that the opening routine is strong. That Sinking Feeling, from Raj and Gregory Wilson, leverages a secret about your iPhone that enables you to divine a spek's thought-of birthday.
Best of Friends is a delightfully easy way to peek one name of those printed on five or more business cards. I can think of many uses for this.
Coincealed allows you to predict which of four physical items a spek will select and then allows you to prove you subconsciously influenced him.
Spread the Mystery allows you to locate a chosen card selected from a shuffled deck. You could do this over the phone.
Chair Way to Heaven is my favorite, allowing you to predict, in two separate ways, which of six chairs a spek will choose to sit in.
There are secrets behind the secrets that make this stuff work, and most of the routines lend themselves to other presentations. All fun material. Exclusively from Vanishing Inc. $20 soft cover (54 pages) or $15 download.
SENIOR MOMENTS-- As I mentioned in my recent review of Card Party, Lewis Jones is a consistent and treasured source of new card magic in both moves and math categories, Britain's once underground genius and a master at concocting stacks, codes, and procedures that look like magic. That he, like Harry Lorayne, is all these things at ninety is simply amazing. Indeed, that anyone at any age is this clever and prolific is amazing.
Lewis's latest is Top Deck, a collection of twenty new pieces in an 88-page perfect bound soft cover edition. A few favorites:
No Chance is a surefire bar bet involving three red cards and three blacks.
Birthday Bonanza lets you predict the total of three secret birthdates. A stooge is used, but very cleverly; a kid could do it for you.
Avalanche is my favorite in the book. From a completely blank deck (both sides), a spek deals four hands of poker and thinks of a card. (You are looking away.) After minor dealing adjustments, the dealt cards are swept away, and you quickly run through the remaining cards and then divine both the location of (?) and the identity of the secret card. It's kind of like I Dream of Mindreading but with no secret marks.
Son of the 21 Card Trick looks nothing like its parent yet locates a card for you that is seemingly quite lost.
Fifty-Fifty is a brilliant use of key cards. Half the time, it's even better than that.
Stacked in Favour continues Lewis's work (begun in Seventh Heaven) on "calculating" the location of any card named in a Si Stebbins deck or the value of the card at any named number. I put "calculated"in quotes because Lewis has worked hard to remove math from the process.
Eighty-eight pages, soft cover, 25 pounds (the price, not the weight) delivered, directly from Lewis Jones. I received mine directly from Lewis, but you can also get it from H&R Magic Books ($38 plus postage).
COFFEE TABLE TRICKERY -- If you are wondering why this issue is late, it's because of this item, which just arrived. The caricatures on the cover of the Lewis Jones book are from a deck by Spanish artist Angel Idigoras. In attempting to locate the deck, I found that the artwork exists in a marvelous coffee table book Adventures of 51 magicians and a fakir. Originally printed in Spain in 2005, the 160-page book opens with a 28-page "A very brief history of magic" (containing many more caricatures of your favorite magicians), followed by the "Adventures of 51 magicians and a fakir" (one caricature and one to four pages of text devoted to each), and closes with eight more pages of magic history (and more caricatures). Mr. Idigoras' written histories (I've only begun to delve into them) are as charming as his drawings, and I look forward to many hours with this material. The book has been translated by Kathryn McFarland and edited for English by Martin Kaplan, and it comes with a foreword by Aldo Colombini.
Accompanying the book is an eight-page pamphlet of magic tricks (professional level) to be performed in conjunction with the book.
From the chapter on 51 magicians and a fakir.
From the chapter on A very brief history of magic.
I've no idea how I missed this when it first became available. The great news is that I not only found the book in English, but that I found it on Amazon, for a mere $12.28 plus shipping. Highly recommended.
TRICK TALK -- In June I placed an order with Penguin Magic. Along with my promptly delivered package was a relatively new periodical, Penguin Magic Monthly. This full-color handsomely laid out journal, the June 2016 issue, features tricks and essays by Nathan Kranzo, Dan Fleshman, Kli Ban, Brent Braun, Lamont Ream, and John Carey. The tricks are cool, and I particularly enjoyed Dan Harlan's essay on 10 Ways to Be a More Creative Magician.
Magic shop swag.
This digest-sized zine sells for $6.95 (worth it) and is free with physical orders of over fifty dollars. It reminds me of the Trick Talk publication that used to come free with all Magic Inc. orders and I of course wish it were the same (free) with Penguin. It would also be nice if there were access if your purchases were downloads, as Penguin has some great downloads. But then, that's why I spent time in a day job instead of running a magic superstore. Whatever, this is a quality product.
MEMBERSHIP HAS ITS PRIVILEGES -- One of the recent benefits of membership in the Academy of Magical Arts is the "From the Library Video Series" in the monthly newsletter. Although the norm is excellent magic performed by Castle librarian Bill Goodwin, Bill turned the July 2016 duties over to Steve Valentine, who rated two videos. In the first, he performed four routines from Harry Lorayne's Close-Up Card Magic. As I have been doing three of those routines since high school, it was terrific fun to see the minor handling differences, indeed with a gag finish to my favorite of the lot, Flash Aces. In this video, Steve closed with a surprising sandwich effect from Thompson's My Best, and I am headed down to the vault to see how the hell he did it as soon as I finish typing this sentence.
Fav tricks from a fav magician.
P.S. From CUCM, Steve performed Lazy Man's Card Trick, Flash Aces, Quinella!, and Lorayne's Poker Deal.
Spend a night in a spooky hotel. Your check in date is 10.11.16, and the reservation lines are open.*
(*Amazon and Barnes and Noble are taking pre-orders.)
Are you stocked up for summer beach reading? Magicians will especially love Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show.
Attend a magic convention!
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 used to frequently journey to and perform 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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