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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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 petried 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!”


Magic and YouTube: Four Observations

1. There’s a magic sucker born every minute. And about an hour later, he will put his first magic tutorial on YouTube.

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2. YouTube generates highly efficient magic: In many videos the explanation is already included in the performance.

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3. YouTube magic is a lot like watching porn movies (so I was told…): You can hardly wait to get to the climax.

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4. An estimation: If YouTube was switched off for just one day, the global level of magic would rise about two meters instantly. Well, that would probably sink Holland; but hey – everything comes at a price! (And Fred Kaps and Tommy Wonder have already been saved anyway. God bless them.)