Welcome / Willkommen !

Hello, fellow majishuns,

and willkommen inside our very personal change bag

full of 1,000 things magical!

(410+ posts since 2009 and counting…)

<<>>>

By establishing this English and German blog called ZZZAUBER (meaning MMMagic) we have set ourselves on a multi-purpose magic mission to entertain and enlighten you:

  • to advance the art of magic by sharing valuable insights, fresh ideas, great magic and pieces of art related to conjuring and deception and by connecting the past, present and future
    (Hint: This is signified by our minimalistic, homemade logo, <<>>>)
  • to poke some good-natured fun at magic’s top brass and everything that may be wrong with amateur majishuns and the majic community today (at least according to our own questionable standards)
  • to share some pieces of interest from magic’s vast history and from our own collection, like magic postage stamps, magic programs, magic in advertising, etc. (more to follow)
  • to showcase, and sometimes show-off, some of our own meager attempts in the arts, be they in written form or even rhymed, drawn or painted, photographed or photoshopped.
    (Note: Please respect the copyright on all our original materials, even the cheap, risqué and shallow ones. Thank you!)

<<>>>

Since this site is all about the friendly art of deception, you will encounter the occasional trick or misdirection being played on you. We hope you have some fun exploring these little hints and secrets.

Just scroll down endlessly on this main page to get all the latest magic news and tidbits! For special interests, like MAGIC ART, POSTAGE STAMPS or INTERVIEWS, you may find the main chapters helpful. Just click them in the bar above.

As for your comments and opinions, frankly, we don’t care much. This is a blog, after all, and not another forum. And since most of our musings are purely based on personal opinions, tastes and observations, what would be the point in telling us your dissenting views and start quarreling here?

We deeply appreciate your occasional visit, read, link, nod or smile, though.

<<>>>

P.S. This blog is not apt for beginners in magic. You may find the link section helpful, but then move on, please. The same goes for secret-seeking dumbwits. Thank you!


Gender-Neutral Playing Cards: Correct or Crazy?

Let’s be very clear from the beginning: Gender inequality obviously is and remains a big challenge, both in business and other areas of life. But do we really need “a set of gender and race-neutral playing cards, … a neutral alternative and a ranking which is accepted around the world … so everyone can feel comfortable while playing cards,” as promoted by this determined young lady who was brought to my attention via the Genii Forum?

So she proposes to kick out all the white supremacist unequal Jacks, Queens, and Kings and replace them with this neutral trinity of Gold, Silver, and Bronze:

Apart from the rather ugly design (in my totally biased old white magic fart opinion), which I would not want to see pass before my eyes every day when shuffling a deck, I wonder whether this suggestion is maybe a solution for a problem that does not really exist in this very specific context?

Besides, I always cringe when major challenges are poo-pood down into symbolic actions, catchy headlines, or marketable items. Which reminds of the ulcer of “political correctness” in the late 80s/early 90s, I believe, when it was considered super correct and fashionable in enlightened circles, for example, to stop calling small people “dwarfs” or “midgets” and promote them to “vertically challenged!” (I always thought of this as a cruel joke. Your mileage may vary.)

But okay, let’s pick up this challenge and take it one step further or two! Let’s not stop halfway to full equality, okay? So what about those white naked angels on bikes on the back of our beloved Bicycle card decks?! Let’s also have yellow buddhas on rickshaws and other spiritual idols on [insert your favorite vehicles here]! And why actually place Tens over Nines or Gold over Silver? Which powerful underground group of supremacist rulers defines these kind of things for all of us?? For a fully equal, truly socialist deck of cards, all cards should be equal, if not identical! (Note: We magicians have actually owned and used these for a long time; they are called force decks.) Also, everyone should be a winner in every game. And get a deck for free, of course!

<<>>>

Addendum: Genii Forum user Jackpot has identified the perfect all-neutral playing cards: double blanks! So let’s play! (Though it always cracks me up that these come in Blue Tuck Standard Bicycle card cases – why?!)

The Many Deceptions of Master Bosch

YOMM_Bosch

I feel happy and honored because my analysis of the relationship between the juggler and the thief in Bosch’s famous painting “The Juggler” has just been published in Marco Pusterla‘s fine journal, Ye Olde Magic Mag! If you are not a subscriber yet, but interested in the field of magic history and collecting, you should check it out; also, if you are just curious to find out why I believe that the juggler and the thief are actually brothers in deceit! The magazine is published quarterly, both in print and digital, and Marco does a great job in researching and compiling scholarly articles, reviews of books and magic auctions, and other interesting bits.

To warm you up for the many layers of trickery in Bosch’s masterpiece, here’s a little game of seek and find:
Can you spot at least 15 mistakes in my manipulated mock version of the original?

Original:

JI_18_Gewinnspiel_1_Originalbild


Forgery:

JI_18_Gewinnspiel_2_Fälschung

Look closely – and don’t take anything for granted! (Just like in real life.) I will post the solution here in a couple of days, so please call again. Have fun!

<<>>>

Click here and scroll down to the end of that page to see the solution! How did you do???


Mirror Magic

I’m a sucker for optical illusions and visual fodder. Recently, I came across the intriguing objects created by Prof. Kokichi Sugihara of Japan. He seems to be a leading expert, specializing on impossible 3-D objects. Miraculously, their reflections in a mirror create quite a different image.

1 Pfeil Sugihara (2)

As you can see, the mirror image of the arrow points in the opposite direction. In addition, once you turn the arrow 180 degrees on its pole, the tip of the arrow seems to jump back right into its original direction of pointing. Absolutely stunning!

1 Kartensymbole Sugahira (2)

This second illusion even lends itself to a little card trick. Show the object with the four card symbols as a “secret prediction.” Then force the Four of Hearts on your spectator and offer “a backstage view” on the illusion. In the mirror, your helper will discover the correct prediction of his chosen card!

Unpaid and unsolicited advertising: I bought these objects at Magic Center Harri, one of Germany’s big, respected, and trustworthy magic dealers. These are simple plastic props, others are made of cardboard. Prices are low, starting around 10 Dollars, and one of them may be a perfect addition to your online magic show!


Ausgezeichnet: Simon Pierro, Volker Huber und Christian Theiß

Kürzlich hat der Magische Zirkel von Deutschland (MZvD) seine beiden wichtigsten Ehrungen bekanntgegeben:

Simon Pierro ist Magier des Jahres 2020. Der sympathische Künstler hat sich in den letzten Jahren weltweit einen hervorragenden Ruf als innovativer digitaler und virtueller Zauberkünstler erarbeitet.

Volker Huber und Dr. Christian Theiß sind die Schriftsteller des Jahres 2020. Gewürdigt wird mit der Auszeichnung ihre jahrelange akribische Arbeit an und schließlich die Herausgabe der monumentalen Bibliographie des deutschsprachigen Schrifttums zur Zauberkunst – Publikationen bis 1945. Nur wer selbst einmal wissenschaftlich-bibliografisch gearbeitet hat, kann ansatzweise ermessen, was für eine Herkulesaufgabe dieses Projekt über Jahre und Jahrzehnte hinweg gewesen ist!

Herzlichen Glückwunsch allen drei Preisträgern, die auf ganz unterschiedliche Art erstklassig die Zauberkunst in Praxis und Forschung (re)präsentieren!


 

Well Said: George Goebel

Magic has her own secret ways. The other day, I was browsing through my files when I came across a 1985 issue of Magic Manuscript featuring illusionist George Goebel (1932-2021), who had just passed away a few days earlier at the age of 88. Incidentally, this issue was signed on the front page to a fellow German collector by Goebel, stating “May your life be filled with the Wonders of Magic.”

Inside the issue you will find ten pages dedicated to Goebel, including a portrait and an interview. The latter closes with five basic things he has learned during his magical career. They are all valid, but I like the very last one best:

It’s not in the crates that you carry a magic show, it’s in the spirit of the people that you are working with.

Well said, Mr. Goebel!


 

R.I.P. Siegfried

Today, the magic world is mourning the passing of Siegfried Fischbacher (1939-2021) of Siegfried & Roy fame. According to his sister, who is quoted in German news media, Siegfried passed on peacefully on Wednesday evening local time in Las Vegas. Only a few days ago it had been reported that he had terminal cancer. His partner Roy had succumbed to the COVID-19 beast just a few months ago.

Siegfried was one of the very greatest, who has brought stage magic and illusion, together with Roy and their animals, to new exciting heights. Their role in establishing full evening shows for magicians in Las Vegas, in earning top dollars and in helping transform the notorious gamblers’ city into a family-friendly entertainment place cannot be underestimated. Plus, Siegfried & Roy perfectly embodied the American dream, rising “from rags to riches” by hard work, innovations, and perseverance. And although they became superstars and rubbed shoulders nightly with the even bigger V.I.P.s, they never forgot their humble provenience and remained likeable, accessible fellows, who also helped a lot of budding magicians on their paths.

Watching their spectacular show, laden with showgirls, dragons and elephants, from a front row seat in the early 90s will always remain one of my fondest memories in magic. At one point, I stared at Siegfried in utter disbelief and fascination. By chance, he looked directly at me, his lips slowly and silently forming the words “Look over there,” and he pointed to where Roy was about to reappear a moment later. A magical moment I will always treasure.

Rest in peace, Siegfried, and thank you for your magic “beyond belief.” SARMOTI forever!

<<>>>

Wittus Witt has outdone himself in putting out a quick, lovely tribute magazine to Siegfried. You can download it for free here!


Harry Lorayne, Old and New

Harry Lorayne, the grand old card and memory man, continues to amaze at 90+ years of age!

He has a new book out, More Jaw Droppers!, plus a second edition of Jaw Droppers!. In addition, his updated website now features a lovely array of older photographs from his illustrious career plus friends and family. Have a look over at https://www.harryloraynemagic.com/.

And if you don’t know why Harry is, in fact, his very own force, check it out here!


Worauf wir uns freuen können

Mal abgesehen von den zahlreichen magischen Zoom-Shows und Livestreams, die inzwischen angeboten werden, gibt es auch noch Neues aus der klassisch-analogen Medienwelt zu vermelden:

Für den 22. März ist nun die Veröffentlichung der schon länger erwarteten Kalanag-Biografie von Malte Herwig angekündigt. Der große Kalanag: Wie Hitlers Zauberer die Vergangenheit verschwinden ließ und die Welt eroberte umfasst 340 Seiten und erscheint im Penguin Verlag.

Ich konnte in den letzten Jahren bei zwei Anlässen mit Malte über Facetten in Kalanags (illusions)reichem Leben sprechen und bin schon sehr gespannt auf das fertige Werk!

<<>>>

Wer die Zeit bis dahin themennah mit spannender Lektüre nutzen möchte, könnte sich zum Beispiel der deutschen Ausgabe von Nazi-Gold von Sayer/Botting widmen, die nach jahrelanger Ankündigung nun endlich im FinanzBuch Verlag erschienen ist. Es handelt sich hierbei um die Geschichte des weithin ungelösten Rätsels der bei Kriegsende verschwundenen Reichsbank-Millionen. Und wer es noch nicht wusste: In dieser Geschichte spielt Helmut Schreiber-Kalanag mindestens eine interessante Nebenrolle…

<<>>>

Farid bekommt nach drei Jahren Pause eine neue Staffel seines Formates “Farid – Magic Unplugged” beim Sender SKY, wie der Mediendienst DWDL kurz vor Weihnachten berichtete. Ab dem 1. März werden immer montags um 20:15 Uhr Doppelfolgen zu sehen sein. Als staunende Gäste dabei sind u.a. Boris Becker, Lothar Matthäus, Felix Neureuther und Nico Rosberg.

<<>>>

Die Gerüchte halten sich schon länger, nun scheint aber tatsächlich ein magisches Houdini-Musical am Broadway langsam Gestalt anzunehmen. Auf der entsprechenden Webseite gibt es jetzt erste Informationen und Skizzen zu sehen. Die Show verspricht etwa 20 verschiedene Großillusionen – wohl mehr als Houdini jemals in seinem Leben vorgeführt hat…


Favorite Posts of 2020

Oy, 2020 turned out bigger and better than I had anticipated! With “only” about 100 new posts, the total number of visitors and views grew about 80% over 2019, attracting visitors from 90 countries and all continents. By far the most views came again from Germany and the U.S., followed by Austria, the UK and the Netherlands. Thank you all!

Some favorite posts and categories of the past year, according to your direct hits and clicks:

  1. Maybe not too surprisingly, Free Things to Do in Corona Quarantine was a major hit in March and April, when COVID-19 shook the world and lead to many lockdowns. I was quite early in compiling links and suggestions how to spend your enforced “me-time” magically.
  2. From the humor department, my “research” piece on magic tricks displayed on our familiar playing cards in four parts found many readers, and I am very happy about that!
  3. My line of aging interviews, both in English and German, remains a constant favorite, and I will try to add a few more this year.
  4. Also, the categories Magic Art and Tricks & Ideas have gained considerable traction. I certainly need to add more content to these constantly!
  5. “Alles was man man sammeln kann” (which translates as “Anything you could collect”) is still a rather popular German Google search which drives unsuspecting people to my site, hopefully stimulating a few to dive deeper into the wonderful world of magic.

Thank you for your interest and loyalty, your word of mouth and your comments! Please keep returning occasionally in 2021. There’s more in store for you!