Fifty dollars could be yours, compliments of me.
Family pleasures have pushed this issue right into the Christmas season. My apologies to readers who prefer a more timely appearance. We in magic have so much to be thankful for, throughout not only this but all the years. But, to concentrate on this month alone, I offer thanks for the long-awaited volume (with DVD) from John Moehring, Del Ray America's Foremost, for Ian Keable's delightful Magic Shows, for exclusive merchandise from Magic, Inc., and for wands galore from an online Ollivander's.
Oh, and just in case I'm this late next month, Merry Christmas!
MR. ELECTRIC -- No, not that Mr. Electric, the other one, the equally successful magician who chose secret electrical assistance, the elusive Del Ray. I regret that I never got to see Del Ray perform live, but thanks to a new package book and DVD set from producers David Baldwin, Robert Escher, and William Spooner, I and anyone else lucky enough to have acquired a set can not only see the stage act that made Del Ray the most successful night club magician ever, but also highlights from what is arguably the best close-up material ever.
You get the handsome book by John Moehring featuring, first, a 367-page exhaustively researched biography, ranging from Del Ray's early years in an orphanage (a financial expedient: his parents were still alive, and he eventually spent fruitful years with a father who helped him with his mechanical creations) to his last years presenting a series of farewell performances and, second, a 61-page trick section compiled by Gary Plants.
The bio details Ray's early years assisting Blackstone, his innovations and drive that led to his own Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen television appearances, his night club career opening for the creme de la creme of American entertainers (often in casinos run by gangsters, including stints in Cuba that read like scenes from Godfather III), his post-nightclub era career with golf tournaments and country clubs (including Bing Crosby's Pebble Beach event), his corporate career (GE paid him $12K a week), his long (and often long-distance) happy marriage to booking agent Anne King, and his magic convention appearances and relationships with magicians over the decades.
Audience reaction to die for.
The DVD provides such Del Ray signature pieces as his singing bird that predicts the rolls of dice, Wee Willie the mouse that scoots around the table to find cards, and a blackjack deal with which Del Ray beats six opponents with a shuffled deck. Del Ray's mixture of sleight of hand, secret electronics, and gruff, working class chatter (described by Ed Eckl as that of "a cultured Jimmy Durante") make for hilarious and baffling entertainment. Eight of the items are described in the book, and I must admit to being completely fascinated by the blackjack deal.
It was a couple of years ago that John Moehring told me he was working on the book, then a secret, his having picked up the gauntlet from David Ben, and I am thrilled to see it come to such a successful fruition. This is a handsome 448-page hardback book with a DVD that you are not only going to watch over and over, but are probably going to invite your friends over to see it. Del Ray is simply that good. Warning: according to the Genii forum, the wholesalers have already sold out of this book. The only copies remaining are in dealers' hands. I got mine from H&R Magic Books. As Del Ray says when he does his blackjack deal, "Good luck!" $68 if you can find a copy.
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? -- One my absolute favorite places to drop in of an afternoon is Magic, Inc., in Chicago. I recently did just that, with the express purpose of acquiring a Magic, Inc. exclusive -- the Selec-trick Deck. Inventor Danny Rudnick has taken a great gag, the Electric Deck, and turned it into a great trick.
|Basically, you do all the schtick you usually do with the Electric Deck and then have a card freely (?) selected from the spread. Then, commanding the card "to reveal itself," the card visibly reverses itself in the spread, as if by magic, exactly in place, and the spread can be shown on both sides. This takes no skill whatsoever. (I can do it and don't even know how it works.) Danny was in the shop to demonstrate it for us last Saturday, and you can see him do it thanks to a video on the Magic, Inc. web site. While visiting the site, you may also wish to pick up a copy of Beating a Dead Horse, Sandy Marshall's stellar biography of his father, Jay, reviewed here in January. The deck: $19.95. The book: $69.95. Each is a steal.||
Alley behind Magic, Inc.
|TABULATED -- I love lists, and few lists thrill me more than lists of magic tricks. I am fascinated by the choices made by the famous and the not so famous, by the tricks selected to open, close, and fill the middle, by tricks both unique and ubiquitous. Imagine then my thrill when Ian Keable put together his fine book Magic Shows, detailing the playlists of some 57 acts that have appeared in Great Britain over the past 30 years, "from Daniels to Derren." The acts of course include visiting Yanks (David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, Steve Cohen, Max Maven, Marc Salem, Ricky Jay, and Fitzgerald) and other guests such as P.C. Sorcar.|
Derren Brown rates two reviews.
The big names of British conjuring are there, including Paul Daniels, Derren Brown, Andy Nyman, Patrick Page, Terry Seabrooke, Guy Hollingworth, and others I'll mention specifically. How interesting to learn that David Berglas closes his stage act with a card trick routine that features his Berglas Effect. To study the routining of my friend Ian Rowland, and especially to read of his closing Card and Dictionary effect. To be reminded of Billy McComb's wonderful Black and White Silk Transpo. To picture Simon Drake light a cigar from a burning skeleton. To covet Derren Brown's Sefalalgia routine. To smile at Paul Daniels' Spirit Cabinet routine in which Debbie loses her panties. To notice how many chose to do the Magic Square, the Tossed Out Deck, the Mother of All Book Tests. Some tricks were as familiar as Paul Daniels' Chop Cup, others as unfamiliar as the act of Mr. Lifto: "He swings around two ironing boards on the end of his penis. He simultaneously lifts irons with his ears, concrete blocks with his nipples and a car battery with his tongue. He finishes by attaching fire crackers to his chest which are set off with loud bangs." My, my. All the acts, which are illustrated throughout with photos and ad copy, offered something of interest. This is one of those books like Hyla Clark's World's Greatest Magicians that is fun to leaf through and think good thoughts about magic. A lovely production, hardback, 192 pages, $40. I bought my copy from H&R Magic Books.
EXPELLIARMUS! -- Unless you are hibernating in a cave, you must be aware of the Harry Potter craze and of the penultimate movie in the series now playing everywhere, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Capitalizing on this, The Noble Collection offers a variety of Harry Potter themed items, most notably a remarkable collection of some 43 different wands, each representing those used by the characters in the books/movies. Be the proud owner of not only a Harry Potter wand but that of Sirius Black or Parvati Patil or Bellatrix Lestrange. My favorites are the two Death Eater wands shown below, one with a skull on its handle, the other with a barbed shaft. Price for each is $28.50; a set of four or ten will earn you a free display case for the relevant quantity.
Ten wands in display case.
And thanks to a bit of magic at the end of November from the basketball gods:
Illinois 79 North Carolina 67
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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