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On the Great White Way

Vintage Laughter

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY -- Harry Lorayne's new book, the $150 limited edition ("all cards, all new, all mine") Personal Collection, created no little interest on such bbs's as The Genii Forum in the days preceding its publication. Then, one by one, correspondents began to report that Harry's magnum opus had arrived. And then ... silence. Did that spell disappointment? Hardly. The trouble is that this is a whale of a book that defies a summary report. At over 650 pages and 200 items, it's like plowing through a semester course in college. Each item demands that you work through it deck in hand. I am about 2/3 the way through it and can report that, to date, these items are fun to work through. Great fun. (Except for the faro items, which I don't do. And that includes the hyped "What a M-E-S.") The effects themselves are all commercial, but it's the techniques -- the controls and reverses and math concepts and so on -- that are continually surprising and satisfying me, things I can use to create other tricks or to refine existing ones. My favorite so far is "Better Overhand-Shuffle Stack," which also appeared in the Harry Lorayne issue of Genii. It's a significant updating of the famous "Lorayne Poker Deal" from Close-Up Card Magic. I recommend dealing the second round face up (except for the royal). The "mis-dealt" aces will not appear until the last cards are dealt. Available directly from Harry Lorayne.

IN THE ZONE -- The first five books that Peter Duffie and Jerry Sadowitz wrote for Martin Breese are being released in a new 256-page tome called CardZones. The new volume on high quality gloss paper contains Alternative Card Magic (Duffie/Sadowitz), Contemporary Card Magic (Duffie/Sadowitz), Card Hits (Sadowitz), Close-up to the Point (Duffie), and Inspirations (Duffie/Sadowitz). Available for 35 pounds plus postage from Martin Breese. Check Duffie's web site for details.

November 2001

T'anks and Obrigado -- This Thanksgiving season, family seems more important than ever. For those of you who are part of magic's extended family, thanks for making each other's lives a little brighter. We here at Little Egypt Magic, including our offshoots in Chicago and Brazil, wish you the best of the season. This month -- great reading from Harry Lorayne, Peter Duffie, James Thurber, and others; Penn and Teller on Broadway; and a nod to cinematic wizards Ricky Jay and Harry Potter.

COMEDY MAGIC -- "The management of the Hotel Splendide, the luxurious establishment where I once worked as a busboy, a waiter, and eventually as an assistant maitre d'hotel in the banquet department, kept on file the addresses of a number of men who were magicians, fortune-tellers, or experts with cards." My kind of place. These are the opening lines of "The Ballet Visits the Splendide's Magician," a 1940 humorous short story by Ludwig Bemelmans. The story appears in Fierce Pajamas/An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker, edited David Remnick and Henry Finder and available from Random House. As expected, the volume contains hilarious pieces by James Thurber, Groucho Marx, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, and the rest of The New Yorker's stable of humorists. Also of interest to magicians is a pre-Masked Magician piece from Robert Benchley (1933) called "It's Fun to Be Fooled ... It's More Fun to Know."

KING CON -- Ricky Jay continues as the most reliable member of David Mamet's stock company of actors, this time appearing in Heist as part of Gene Hackman's clever gang. Danny Devito is the fence who stirs up trouble for the boys. Ricky has some great lines, and they seem so perfect for him one wonders whether Mamet wrote them or Ricky wrote them for himself. Re the plot, I agree with Roger Ebert: surely the girl didn't wind up with "the other guy." As for Ricky, few gangsters have taken a bullet with more class.

LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN -- The Bad Boys of Magic are about to become the Bad Boys of Broadway, filling in for Dick Cavett as host of The Rocky Horror Show (the musical). Cavett heckles the audience and the audience heckles the entire show, extending the tradition of the cult movie on which the musical is based. Celebrity hosts filling in for Cavett (Robin Leach and Gilbert Gottfried have already done turns, and Jerry Springer is up next) must contend with objects as well as verbal asides being hurled. Penn and Teller will host the show December 18-23 in what promises to be a memorable outing, with Teller learning to eat fire (check his story on this on his web site) and Penn being fitted for high heels and fishnet stockings.

THAT OTHER HARRY -- As anticipated, Harry Potter the movie is off to a record take, which should keep magic (real the magic, the kind you do, right?) on everyone's mind through the holidays. (If you are doing any magic for kids, you'd better be good.) My son just caught Harry Potter e o Pedra Filosofal in Brazil, so the magic is everywhere. For the latest details and some terrific sound effects, imagery, and downloads, check the official Harry Potter home page.

If someone wants to spend a whooooole lot of money to see a great magic show ...

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 a computer 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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