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Magic Magazine July 2014
The Wonderful Wizard of Oslo
Floating balls, dancing neckties, smoke-filled soap bubbles, and other animated objects have helped make Finn Jon's reputation as an innovative illusionist for the past half century. Finn Jon is a creative conjuror unlike any other, onstage and off.
Greg Wilson and the Golden Age of Magic
When Disney Studios planned to showcase their latest film, Maleficent, at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood with a live magic show, they turned to Greg Wilson. The result is an elaborate production of classic magic in tribute to bygone days.
Comparisons to Harry Potter are easy thanks to the gothic look of the campus, but Tannen's Magic Camp predates Hogwarts by a quarter century. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of Tannen's Magic Camp, a summer adventure of workshops, performances, and enduring friendships, all centered around magic.
Fred Becker: Doing Gigs on Ships
From the moment he learned it was possible to do magic on board cruise ships, Fred Becker knew that was what he was destined to do. Still continuing his career on both land and sea, Becker has been instructing others on cruise performing, a work environment like no other.
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Bonus Content for the July Issue...
Fifteen products are reviewed this month by Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Jared Brandon Kopf, Bryce Kuhlman, Francis Menotti:
Ridiculous by David Williamson
The Streets by John Archer
Stephen Hobbs' Technical Toolbox by Stephen Hobbs
The Last Prediction by Kneill X
The Mobius Coin Wallet by Anthony Miller (RFA Productions)
The Truth From a Liar by Hannibal
E2 by Peter Nardi and Rob Bromley
Suitcase Tables from Showtime Magic Products
Card Cube by Persus Arkomanis
Silent Treatment Digital Edition by Jon Allen
The History of Conjuring and Magic by Henry Ridgley Evans
Another: At The Fingertips Series #1 by Dr. Mutobe
Risk 4 by Rizki Nanda
Smudged by John Horn
The REL Change by Michael Brewer
The Monk's Way
A Bluffer Cuts to the Aces
There are some performers who imagine a layperson viewing a trick like a magician. This is not so. (And your wife is not a layperson!) So, let me give you some hints on how to look at a trick from a layperson's point of view. Let's also answer an important question that will be a guiding factor as we continue to delve into "The Monk's Way" in upcoming articles: When does the effect begin? To do this, I'll deconstruct an effect.
Norman Gilbreath is best known for the mathematical principle that bears his name. This month, "First Look" presents Polarized Colors, an effect excerpted from Norman's new book, Beyond Imagination. The book includes the math that explains the basis for some of the tricks and routines that are described in the text. Norman notes, "For those who find mathematics a foreign language, not to worry - you can skip all the text concerning the reasons why things work and the magic will still work, if you are careful. None of the magic has been left to chance."
This month's guest contributor is Blair Franklyn from New Zealand. Blair has devised a very neat routine featuring two spectators, five coins, and a series of choices - which coins they place in their pockets, which one they give to you, and whether they toss heads or tails. Surprisingly, you are able to predict every detail correctly, including the results of two coin tosses. What makes this even more impressive is that all of the coins involved are imaginary. That's right, all these choices take place in the imaginations of the two spectators. The only things that are real are your written predictions, which are 100 percent correct. It's a neat, baffling mystery that you can perform at a moment's notice.
Bent on Deception
Stationary(ery) Walk-Around Magic
In the mid '90s, I was hired by Staples to perform at a vendor fair where they were showing off new items to clients. When I got there, I was handed a big cardboard case full of Post-It Notes. I couldn't figure out why they wanted me to push Post-Its, which had been out for years, but it wasn't an issue. In the middle of a trick, I reached for the pad to write something down, and the whole stack lifted up accordion-style in my hand. It was like a Post-It Note Electric Deck gag. This surprised me and the crowd, and the silliness of it got a good laugh. It turns out I was given a brand-new product that was just being introduced: Post-It Pop Up Notes. The second I saw these, a perfect trick came to mind. I quickly assembled it and then performed it all day. It got a great reaction every time. It also got everyone playing with and talking about the product, which made the person in charge happy. I call it Post-itive Identification.
Lloyd Jones to Dave Fiscus (Part 1)
This letter is incredible on a variety of levels. First is its length, a whopping five typed pages, so rich in content that it will be necessary to serialize it over three months. Equally amazing is how this letter found its way to Egyptian Hall. For that, I must thank Dave Fiscus, a faithful reader of this column who received this letter as a young man, 56 years ago. When he stumbled upon it last year, he wondered if I might like to add it to the files of Egyptian Hall Museum. It wasn't until it arrived in the mail that I realized what a gold mine I have been given. The letter represented a master's thesis on the state of the magic world in America during the middle of the 20th century.
For What It's Worth
Devant, Maskelyne, and Kornhauser: The "A" Word
It's been more than 100 years since Nevil Maskelyne and David Devant published Our Magic. In 1911, they thought that magic had advanced quite a lot. The average magician was "educated in a public school" and had gained some social status - "public school" in the UK being the same as "private school" in the US. They predicted that, one day, magic would be considered a fine art. How is that working out?
Performance Enhancing Drugs II: A Completely True Yet Misleading Statement
Anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account knows the pleasure that comes from making a really clever status update. One that still makes me smile happened back in 2009, when I was preparing for what was, at the time, the biggest gig of my career.
Magic Magazine August 2014
Xavier Mortimer: Young Master
By Rory Johnston
He's a magician, musician, juggler, dancer, mime, and more. Currently appearing with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, French entertainer Xavier Mortimer is a "Jacques of all trades," and he's always working on more.
The Rise in Custom Playing Cards
By Chris Chelko
Playing cards are arguably the most popular magic prop in the world, but of course not only magicians buy cards. Recently, designer decks have become all the rage for card players and collectors, and they may be changing the face of magic.
By Jaq Greenspon
Drummond Money-Coutts, often known simply by his initials, comes from a respected British family of nobles. Yet he is making a name for himself in the world of close-up magic, with a television special behind him and new projects to come.
How Was the Convention? Impressions & Snapshots
Words by Stan Allen
Photos by Arto Airaksinen
This summer, the IBM and SAM joined together to hold their tenth Combined Convention. Everyone who was there came back with stories to tell, but here are just a few - mostly visual - impressions of the magic week in St. Louis.
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Fourteen products are reviewed this month by Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Jared Brandon Kopf, and Francis Menotti:
The Art of Presenting Magic to Teenagers by Danny Orleans
Paul Harris Presents Lubor's Gift by Lubor Fiedler
Shock Twist by Gary Jones
Nukes by Doug Edwards
Rubik's Rod by Andy Clockwise
Evaporation by Louie Foxx
Stretcher: The Uncanny Collection by Jay Sankey
The Business by Romanos
Cue Command by Deceptively Simple
DeMuth Milk Bottle by Frederick Demuth
Unshuffled by Anton James
Defiance by Mariano Goñi
Deflect by Skulkor
The Box by Mark Southworth
Chris Westfall is a rarity: he is a working pro who performs only original material. He makes his living performing close-up magic in the Toronto area, and his shows are filled with fresh magic that he creates for his own use. His style is playful, self-deprecating, and visual. He rarely uses a table. His material is worked through completely, tested in every conceivable environment, and honed to perfection through countless tableside performances. Calculated Chaos, his new booklet from Vanishing Ink, offers some of Chris' favorite original routines, including out "First Look" selections this month: Cheeky Triumph and Nested in Nothing.
The Monk's Way: Mr. Fogg Tracked Down
As we continue to reestablish the audience's role not only as viewer but also as an integral part of our methods, let's turn to the subject of routining. Magicians tend to take a linear approach: step one leads to step two leads to step three and bang! We use misdirection and sleights and presentation to cover this direct-line process. But imagine if the primary method could be hidden elsewhere - in the context of another trick. Unlike multiphase routines, with one phase setting up for the next, our objective is disjointing the method from the effect. In this way, the sleight-heavy baggage has been dropped and the effect has a much more magical sense. Let's examine this approach as applied to Vernon's classic Travelers, in which four signed Aces are first lost into the deck and then magically appear in four separate pockets.
Loving Mentalism: The Spirit Scrawl
Spirit writing is a timeless effect that still packs a powerful punch. We're all familiar with the traditional methods using old-fashioned slates with secret flaps, as well as more modern variations on the same theme. This month's "Loving Mentalism" item is a simple, easy spirit writing effect that uses nothing more than a few business cards - and they aren't even gaffed. After displaying the cards slowly and fairly on both sides, you can make any writing you want appear on the cards while they are held in the spectator's own hands. What's more, you end completely clean with nothing to hide. This is a highly versatile method that you can adapt to suit many different themes and styles. The ultra-simple method is sure-fire and always leaves a lasting impression.
Bent on Deception: Have a Great Show!
This month, Mike unleashes upon the magic world his Amazing Three-Step Miracle Marketing Success System. People have hypothetically offered to buy this system for over $1 million! But he's not going to charge that, because he wants to give back to the magic community that has given so much to him. This no-holds-barred marketing approach is guaranteed to produce results that will get you more gigs, virtually overnight! Well, results not guaranteed, and "night" at the North Pole is approximately six months long.
Classic Correspondence: Lloyd Jones to Dave Fiscus (Part 2)
We rejoin Lloyd Jones' letter to Dave Fiscus, written in 1958. The letter represented a master's thesis on the state of the magic world in America during the middle of the 20th century. Lloyd continues to point out the pros and cons - well, mostly cons - of becoming a full-time professional magician:
For What It's Worth: Judgment Day
There is not a formal body of literature that can properly be called "magic criticism." Certainly there is nothing that compares to the formal body of criticism for literature, art, and film. Written, "legitimate" criticism of magic is relatively rare. If there is not legitimate criticism of the art form, how are we supposed to refine our art and pass guidance down to subsequent generations? (By the way, how good a job have we done with that recently?)
Walkabout Soup: Life, Death, and the Hollywood Fringe Festival
As I write this, I'm in the middle of a week of severe crunch-time preparing for a solo show in the Hollywood Fringe Festival. The show opens in four days. It involves a lot of new material. Much of this material requires complicated R&D, weird shopping lists, and unusual construction techniques. You know, business as usual for anyone attempting to create an original magic show.
Magic Magazine September 2014
Blake Vogt: Coming to Light
By Jamie D. Grant
People scoffed when Blake Vogt said he wanted to design illusions for Las Vegas magicians. Yet, a few years later, he was doing just that, and he has now consulted for many of the biggest names in magic, in addition to keeping up his own performing career.
The Official Wizard of San Francisco
By Mike Ching
A throwback to the days of the traveling medicine-show pitchman, Dr. H.P. Lovecraft was one of the premier street performers in San Francisco forty years ago. His mixture of magic, comedy, and hokum was influential in the world of vaudeville presented to passersby.
Mel Mellers, Mirthful Marvel
By Alan Howard
Onstage, Mel Mellers manages to remain charming while being cattily insulting to his audience. Offstage, this British comic magician is quietly thoughtful, carefully analyzing his material for maximum impact.
By Alan Howard
Jason Latimer's new show, Perception: See Beyond the Illusion, is not an example of magic versus science; it is proof that the wonder of one leads to the discoveries of the other.
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Bonus Content for the September Issue...
Fifteen products are reviewed this month by Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Jared Kopf, and Francis Menotti:
The Magic Way by Juan Tamariz
Close Culls by Harapan Ong
The Floating Ball by Luis de Matos
Aurora by Scott Thomson
X-Change by Julio Montoro and SansMinds Magic
Noted 2.0 by Gary Jones
Travelling Deck 2.0 by Takel
Holy COW by Chef Tsao
Velocity by Rick Smith Jr.
Infallible by Mark Elsdon
The Opposite of People by Michael Feldman
Senses by Christopher Wiehl
In One: Blake Vogt
Although he is only in his twenties, Indiana native Blake Vogt has been making a reputation for himself as a creative consultant for many of today's most noted magicians, as well as establishing a performing career of his own. This month, "In One" features Blake's own descriptions of two of the many tricks he has created. His impromptu version of a Card to Wallet effect is performed for one person, yet adds an element of mystery for the rest of the audience, who think they know what is happening. T-$hirt is an almost instantaneous transformation of a dollar bill into an origami shirt.
The Monk's Way: Monkey in the Box
The now well-known footage of "The Invisible Gorilla" embodied the idea of intentional blindness. However, it was not the first time I had seen this idea used in magic effects. I thought, This is exactly the kind of thing Bro. Hamman employs in his work. I had seen it time and again as I began paying more and more attention to my audiences. In 2002, my colleague B.J. Bueno shared an unpublished idea that used full distraction to put a folded card into a card box. Why not do a similar thing more openly, more boldly? I thought, Perhaps the gorilla wouldn't be seen. It had to be called: Monkey in the Box.
Loving Mentalism: Sign Language
Being able to just look at someone and correctly guess his or her star sign is quite an impressive feat. Various methods have been devised over the years, the vast majority relying on having the spectator write something down or ruses such as a progressive anagram. This month's "Loving Mentalism" offers a different approach. It's a wholly impromptu way of giving the impression that you're able to figure out someone's star sign from just a couple of personality questions. There's nothing written down and no props involved. All you need to do is learn the script and you're good to go, anywhere, anytime!
Bent on Deception: To Script or Not to Script: That is the Question
It's back-to-school time! And for me, that means teaching. I'm starting my 25th year teaching at Emerson College in Boston. One of the classes I teach essentially functions as a sketch comedy group. We brainstorm ideas, write sketches, revise them, submit them, vote on them, rehearse them, and perform them in front of a live audience. It is hands-on, practical work. It also mirrors what I do with my act. I think of all my routines as one-person sketches, and they're sketches written in script form. There's been a lot of talk about magicians and scripting. Is scripting good or bad? I believe scripting is a great idea and a horrible idea at the same time. Let me explain.
Classic Correspondence: Lloyd Jones to Dave Fiscus (Part 3)
We return with Lloyd Jones' letter to Dave Fiscus, written in 1958. This third and final installment again represents a master's thesis on the state of the magic world in America during the middle of the 20th century. Lloyd continues to point out the pros and cons - well, mostly cons - of becoming a full-time professional magician.
For What It's Worth: The Great American Suitcase Act
When a great artist tries to create a great piece of magic, he or she must ask: Am I creating wonder? Am I true to myself? Does this separate me from all the rest? And yet some of the cleverest magicians I know, the ones who seem to work all the time, often ask themselves a different first question: Will it fit in my suitcase?
Walkabout Soup: The Great Australian Rope Drought of 2008
It's a well-established view that many of the best rope routines involve genuinely cutting the rope - which means they also involve keeping one's rope stocks topped up. Before 2008, that was easy. Rope was cheap. Rope was plentiful. Rope was so easily available that most people didn't bother keeping stockpiles of it. Then the dark days came. In early 2008, the factory closed. The Australian magic industry was plunged into a sudden and severe rope drought. Magicians realized too late that they had become overly reliant on a single supplier.