Orsen the Obvious: A Traumagic Life

Orsen B. was a man of many talents. Alas, magic was not among them, as we know today. By a strange trick of fate, Orsen’s diaries fell into the hands of our untiring and effervescent collector friend, Chase Doves.

When Orsen was 17 years old, he left his Midwestern home with a pocket full of money, a small suitcase full of clean shirts and a dream of a huge international career in magic. When he returned home at the age of 43, he carried no money and no career worth mentioning, but a big suitcase full of dirty laundry.

As Orsen B. vanished from the magic scene eleven years ago and his whereabouts are yet unknown, we have decided to publish only select entries from his diaries, but for privacy’s sake delete all real names as well as precise dates and locations.

First jubilee! Played my 25th show, this time at the Wulfenblitz Retirement Home. Went quite O.K., but felt completely different, with real audience and all.


Had to stop my show at Billsgate Kindergarden untimely. Little sucker broke my break-away wand! Put him in my change bag, came out as a 15′ yellow silk. That’ll teach him!

P.S.: I wished I had the power to do that… But all I could actually do was push the kid aside. Then his father smacked me. Then I told him he had an anger management problem. Then he set my props on fire and told me I had a magic management problem. Almost a draw, I would say.


Premiered my show “Mega-Magic for a New Millennium” at our church’s ecumenical flea market fest. All went well except they couldn’t find a magnetic tape recorder for my monster prediction effect. Sad times!


Saw a dead pigeon on my way to a gig. Note to myself: Better check that old dove pan in the attic tomorrow. Maybe not all of them flew away back in 1996?!


Another tiring table show in China tonight (O.K., it was rather at Lee Hong’s China Parlor). Afterwards, I wanted to relax with Qi Gong. But sadly, she was not in the mood.

(to be continued)


Der kleine großartige Buchinger

Bereits länger angekündigt, scheint nun die Veröffentlichung unmittelbar bevorzustehen: The Greatest German Living nennt Ricky Jay sein Werk über Matthias Buchinger (1674-1739), den “kleinen großartigen Mann aus Nürnberg”, der u.a. als ein Meister des Becherspiels galt, obwohl er keine richtigen Hände besaß.

Das Taschenbuch soll laut Amazon am 9. September 2015 erscheinen und bei einem Umfang von 160 Seiten knapp 34 Euro kosten. Ricky Jay hat Buchinger bereits in seinem Buch Sauschlau und Feuerfest von 1988 ein Kapitel gewidmet.

Addendum: Fans von Ricky Jay finden hier ein dreidimensionales Portrait von ihm, das der Künstler Glenn Kaino aus Spielkarten gestaltet hat.

New Light on the Ancient Cups & Balls

Take a look at this lamentable picture from the Beni Hasan tomb in Egypt (the original mural painting is well over 4,000 years old) and marvel at the level of self-delusion and conceit only possible among majishuns. It may seem ridiculous today, but for decades we have boasted about this thing here being “the oldest proof of a cups & balls performance.” Yeah, right!

Looking at the details, the Gestalt of this very routine would actually deserve a “revolutionary” rating. Why?

  1. What we see is obviously a one-on-one performance. Thus, this image also depicts nothing less than the birth of close-up magic!
  2. It is also the first known document of active audience participation, as the spectator is clearly seen lifting one of the cups. Further research needs to be conducted on the question whether this indicates rather a “Do as I do” plot or an early “Spectator vs. Magician” theme.
  3. Preceding Tommy Wonder and David Williamson by more years than I care to count, this trend-setting routine actually features only two cups!
  4. The climax of this routine is even more astonishing: Boy, look at these loads! As we can see, two more cups (possibly solid ones) are being produced from under the lifted ones. The loads even look bigger than the cups – ample proof that the Egyptian magi were also well acquainted with optical illusions… Yeah, right!

Be that as it may, I enjoyed the point of view Scott Wells took in his introduction for Kreg Yingst‘s fine book The Magic Show in 52 Linotypes. He wrote: “Some believe they were merely baking bread but I like to think that they were magicians who may have also been chefs.”

Addendum: The above reminds me of an old joke told among magicians: “Have you heard? In Mesopotamia, they’ve found a petrified man about 6,000 years old. And guess what – he didn’t wear gloves. It’s obvious that this guy must have been an early stage manipulator who had just vanished his gloves!”