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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Vanishing Julian Assange

Let’s not get too political here. Let’s simply state that WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange has been living and hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than three and a half years now (!) in order to avoid being arrested by British authorities and, subsequently, turned over to Swedish or U.S. authorities. His future path is uncharted and most likely stony.

Now, if you were an illusionist like David Copperfield or Franz Harary and called in for help, how would you make him disappear from the embassy without his guardians, his persecutors, and the press bloodhounds noticing in due time?

Having just watched several old TV specials by Copperfield and the late great Paul Daniels, I would have an idea or two. (O.K., Jim Steinmeyer would probably come up with 27 solutions at once.)

If someone were to pull this off – can you imagine the hoot and the headlines?!

This is not your grandfather’s egg bag trick. This is not the latest poor poo-poo card move. This is truly magic with a meaning!

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Tricks & Ideas (9): Copper/Silver Sugar

Have you experienced this, too? Sometimes the magic seems to happen out of itself and to jump right into your face, just like that (to quote Tommy Cooper here).

I was sitting in an unfamiliar café somewhere down the road, absent-mindedly pouring sugar into my cappuccino, when I realized that all the sugar packets in the basket only seemed different but were in fact identical, each carrying one design on the front and another, distinctly different one on the back.

A minute later, I was able to perform an impromptu miracle on my unsuspecting family by making two different sugar packets transpose in my closed fists, and they were duly impressed (much more than with many of my well-rehearsed marvels, I hate to admit), at least for about five seconds.

Unsolicited advertising: You can order these Hellma sugar packets in 1,000s directly from the manufacturer here.


For more Tricks & Ideas, click here.


Another Word on Cohen

If you are a first-timer to Steve Cohen’s show, Chamber Magic, like I was only recently, here are three tips for an even better experience:

  1. The suite where the show is staged is not located directly at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, but at the adjoining Waldorf Towers. You may want to use their extra side entrance to get to the right registration desk. If you decide to take a walk around the famous hotel first (which I would highly recommend), simply turn left in the dark, sumptuous main lobby and take the elevator down to the ground floor. Later, you will be guided upstairs to the suite.
  2. If you are not a front row aficionado (like Dave of L&L video fame), you may want to save the extra bucks for a front row seat and stick with a general admission ticket (currently priced at 85$). Just make sure to enter the elevator with the first group of visitors. After entering the suite, you will likely find many empty seats with exellent sight lines to choose from.
  3. Get at least a souvenir booklet and have it kindly signed by Steve after the show. Choose your items from the online gift shop before ordering your tickets.

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Addendum: Here’s an older post of mine (in German) with links for magic things to see and do in NYC (and also in Las Vegas and London).


 

 

A Word on Cohen

Recently, I finally managed to see Steve Cohen’s long-running show, Chamber Magic, in an elegant suite (see picture below) at the legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

Steve is a consummate pro, his show is charmingly traditional, yet fast-paced, interactive, very entertaining and highly deceptive, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended!

From a magician’s perspective, I find three aspects of his program particularly worth mentioning:

  1. He opened and closed with card magic.
  2. He presented both his signature pieces, Brick from Hat and Any Drink Called For, rather early in the show.
  3. He did a lot of mentalism (and I mean a lot).

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A Word on Carney

John Carney is a modern Hofzinser.

He is a consummate sleight-of-hand artist.

He studied with Dai Vernon, learned from Faucett Ross, Derek Dingle and Michael Skinner.

He is funny, see his Mr. Mysto persona, and he can act – two qualities not inherent to most of us mortal majishuns.

And he is a bit overweight and obviously incapable of changing that (or simply doesn’t care). Either way, this earns him some extra cookies from my tray!

He is also an author, lecturer, creator and teacher of fine magic, as his two sought after books, Carneycopia (1991) and The Book of Secrets: Lessons for Progressive Conjuring (2004), ably demonstrate.

I consider “Secret Philosophy”, his opening chapter from Carneycopia, required reading. By diligently studying this plus his tricks and also his booklet Magic by Design: Study, Practice and Presentation (2009) you will become a better magician. Unfortunately, the latter work is out of print, but you may find other useful material of John Carney on his website here. He also has announced a new book for 2016.


Inadvertent Comedy Magic

Let’s face it: Most “magic comedy acts” are anything but funny. If you are really lucky, the gags are only a tad worse than the tricks.

On the other hand, there are a lot of magic performances out there which are much funnier than the artists intended.

I’m not sure about the following one, but when I first came across it I laughed so hard I almost spilled my coffee into the computer keyboard. Sadly, this balloony “world record” is the funniest thing in magic that I have seen in a very long time. (Yeah, pity me and pity the overall state of magic.)

However, later on this performance inspired me to create a pretty cool novel magic trick for kids with that well-known c****e bag.

So please take a look at The Uncanny Magic Liverwurst Man (that’s my label for him; he bills himself as Gold Member and holds several questionable world records, some of them related to magic).


Tricks & Ideas (8): 3D Printing Prediction

It would be an interesting exercise to trace the influence of new technologies and media on magic throughout the last 125 years. Overall, I would guess that magicians have been pretty quick in picking up new developments – like electrical power, magnetism, cinema, radio, and television, tape recorders, records, CDs, the internet and mobile phones, to name just a few – and making use of them in their trickery. One of the biggest recent trends in technology is 3D printing. More than a few experts predict that this will revolutionize many industry branches. Be that as it may – why don’t you try to come up with an idea for an early 3D trick?

I mean, now. Just give it five or ten minutes. I won’t go away!

O.K., what have you come up with? Here’s my first take: Present a 3D printer and start it, but cover the product you are creating. Now, with utmost fairness, f***e the white Knight from a full checkerboard on a spectator. For dramatic impact, throw the Knight into a strong shredder you have conveniently at hand and turn it into sawdust. In line with your story on industrial automation and on-demand delivery, let your spectator take the freshly printed figure from the 3D printer: whew, it’s another white Knight! Replace it on the checkerboard  and marvel together at the magic of modern machinery and masterful mentalism.

Right, this may need some good scripting and doctoring still, but hey – it’s magic going 3D printing!


Career Choices (2): Signature Effects

Wise career choices: Only the lucky few among us majishuns will ever manage to have a great effect attached to their name forever as their inimitable signature piece. For instance, think of these inseparable pairs:

Harry Blackstone – The Floating Light Bulb

Jay Marshall – Lefty

Paul Daniels – Chop Cup Routine

David Copperfield – Flying

Paul Gertner – Steel Balls and Cups

Tommy Wonder – Two Cups Routine

Tom Burgoon – …umm… Timmy Toilet Paper.

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