Words of Wisdom (8): Lloyd E. Jones

I have just discovered this little nugget by Lloyd E. Jones, written in the introduction to his re-publication of The Four Full Hands by Charles T. Jordan in 1947:

The pleasure to be found in discovering principles or subtleties in print often surpasses the joy in performing, for to most magicians there is a greater opportunity to read good magic than there is to perform.

So true!


 

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R.I.P. Daryl Easton

Oh boy, it’s been a month already, but I am still shocked about the demise of Daryl, who, apparently suffering from severe depressions, had sadly decided to take the worst possible way “Out of this World” and end his life backstage in Hollywood’s Magic Castle at age 61.

While his hair cut has arguably improved over the years, his magic with cards, coins, cups and ropes has always been impeccable, fresh, and engaging. I am a proud owner of his rare Ambitious Card Omnibus, of some great tricks and many of his excellent teaching videos.

Just like his famous red knot jumping onto a white rope, his creations and his style have woven themselves inseparably into magic’s path over the last three or four decades, and we must be grateful that he has shared his immense talent and his professional secrets with us.

Rest in peace, Daryl!

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Creativity in Magic (1)

I have always found it amazing how new tricks, ideas, or routines come into this world. Sheer luck and mere chance seem to play a far greater role in their conception and delivery than any logical thinker could ever imagine.

Take the following example about Joe Karson’s creation of the famous “Zombie”, a wonderful story (if true) which I have just come across in Frank Garcia‘s “New York News” in an old issue of Magic Manuscript (Vol. 4, Issue 4, p. 45):

Incredible as it may seem, the trick called “Zombie” was invented by the late Joe Karson quite by accident. He bought a house and everything was fine but the toilet commode didn’t function, so Joe started taking the commode apart. He removed the balance ball attached to the rod and dried it with a towel. He then came upon the idea of making it a floating ball. The rest is magical history!

I will be happy to share more examples in the future. Stay fresh and stay tuned!

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R.I.P. Jeremy Le Poidevin

Very saddened to hear and read about the sudden passing of Jeremy Le Poidevin, owner of Practical Magic in Ellesmere, UK!

Not that I have known him well; but I have bought some fabulous children’s magic tricks from him, have corresponded with him on a few trick ideas and tips, and have always immensely enjoyed both his fireside chats (with the inimitable, wacky John Kimmons, a.k.a. Kimmo) and his video demos.

The dog arm puppet I got from Jeremy is simply the cutest and best one I have ever seen, and his DVD with handlings tips (see below) is a great and fun product I took a lot of value from.

I think it’s kind and caring people like Jeremy who contribute so much to our everlasting joy of watching, talking, and shopping magic. With them leaving, it feels like magic’s age of innocence—the brick and mortar shops, the glitter boxes and feather flowers, the smalltown conventions, etc.—is inexorably fading away.

My condolescences to his wife and family. Rest in peace in Eternal Wonderland, Jeremy!

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Stereotypes in Magic Catalogs (2)

Here are some more Chinese depictions I have found in older European catalogs like Zauberkatalog Bartl (around 1920), Joe Wildon’s Zauberkatalog (1959), Tricks für Sie (Joe Wildon, 1963), Mephisto-Huis Catalogus Nr. 7 (1960s/70s?), Modern Magic Hauptkatalog (Zauberzentrum Janos Bartl, 1979), Zauberkatalog viennamagic (1993), and The Demon Catalogue (Davenports Magic, 2006):

Please keep in mind that these illustrations were most likely never intended to offend anyone on purpose. They merely reflect perceptions, expectations and stereotypes of the mystic and exotic, sly and enigmatic Chinese wonder workers prevalent at a certain time and place in Western societies. We may judge differently today.


You can read part one of this topic here.


Stereotypes in Magic Catalogs (1)

Recently, a thread over at the Genii Forum discussed stereotypical depictions of Asians in older magic catalogs. To go a-hunting myself, I took out three huge random catalogs from my collection, spanning almost 50 years of magic lore and folklore: Abbott’s Catalog No. 6 from 1940, Tannen’s Catalog No. 6 from 1966, and the Supreme Magic Catalogue from 1989. Not surprisingly, all of them feature many stereotypical depictions of Chinese, Oriental or Indian magi.

To be fair, I think almost any magic catalog, old or rather recent, will give you similar results, as it was common practice to simply reproduce the illustrations provided by the trick producers. It should also be assumed that, at the time of their drawing, these illustrations were likely to be thought fitting and authentic (or symbolic, at least), not degrading or even racist.

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Some blatant Chinese examples I found in the catalogs mentioned above:

Abbott: “Abbott’s Chinese Coin Magic/The Greatest of All Coin Tricks”, p. 105; “The Tubes of Budda”, p. 157; “Abbott’s Modern Lota”, p. 249; “Modern Aerial Fishing”, p. 287; “Bawden’s Bowls”, p. 381; “Chinese Laundry Ticket”, p. 397.

Tannen: “Chinese Puzzle Box”, p. 15; “No Tickie – No Shirtee”, p. 31; “Chinatown Quarter”, p. 105; “The Chinese Pipes of Simplex”, p. 119; “Grant’s Chink Cans”, p. 276; “Chinese Bird Canister”, p. 366.

Supreme: “Chinese Wishing Papers”, p. 277; “China Tea”, p. 339; “Confetti Can”, p. 343; “The Hung-Too Card Prediction”, p. 457; “Soo Coin Trick”, p. 503; “Two Wongs Make a White”, p. 587.

You can see a small selection of images from these tricks at the top of this post.

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As a questionable extra, take a look at “Eeny-Meeney-Miney-Mo!” presenting “four little black boys, amusingly depicted and beautifully printed”, on page 181 of the Supreme catalog:

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Hm. I guess everybody who still produces magic catalogs, online or in print, is well advised to check their ethnic illustrations and at least do away with the most blatant ones. Sadly, even without these, a huge chunk of magic is and has always been stereotypical because of the time-worn tricks we choose and our uninspired presentations. Or, to quote a musician who once said to world-class manipulator and illusionist Topas after witnessing a magic gala, “This felt like Jimi Hendrix had never lived.” (From Topas’ funny book in German, Jungfrau gesucht, Säge vorhanden.)