Note ye ed's email address:

Amazing Johnathan's new talk show.

In case you missed it, check out the Halloween 2011 black and white issue in which we first reviewed Roger Ebert's autobiography.

April 2013

Ah, April showers. Don't you just love them, especially when they start filling up your basement? But to the important news: this month we enjoy six episodes of Amazing Johnathan's new talk show, Burn Unit; new books from Lewis Jones and Roberto Giobbi; Alan Watson's Magic New Zealand with Nick Lewin's Remarkable Magic contributions; and we bid a fond farewell to Roger Ebert.

MERV WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD -- I am shocked that I have not seen this written up anywhere else yet. Amazing Johnathan has launched a new magic-related talk show called Burn Unit that you can access on the internet at Theoretically this airs live each Wednesday evening at 9:00 Las Vegas time, when viewers are invited to interact, but so far I have accessed all the episodes after the fact. Before I continue, understand that this is the Amazing Johnathan, so the language is both adult and politically incorrect, so I will post the same warning that AJ does: Not Suitable (I guess, for those who don't want the talk to be adult and who like their attitudes more hoity-toity). Given the freedom to say whatever, the show invites comparisons to those from Howard Stern and Chelsea Handler except, of course, it's about magic. And the allied arts, as Robert A. Nelson used to say: some of these allied arts are definitely not for the squeamish.

Andrew cleans out his sinuses.

Each episode so far has opened with a live bunny announcer who tells a dirty joke (sounding suspiciously like Bruce Block), followed by some chatting with AJ and co-host Bruce, with AJ teaching a magic trick or practical joke, and then some quality time with a guest. Guests to date include: Johnny and Pam Thompson (Johnny had a really nifty touch on Triumph that was new to me), Andrew S. and Kelvikta the Blade (Andrew is a suspension artist; at one point he suspends himself with hooks in his face only, among other cool stunts), Geechy Guy (the heir apparent to Henny Youngman), Jungle Josh (snake and other animal trainer; AJ teaches a terrific gag with rubber snake, and you know I love them), Bizzaro (curse his bones for not releasing his Stigmata trick), Anastasia Syn and Brianna Belladonna (the latter ate a lightbulb!), and a two-parter with Penny Wiggins (AJ's assistant; 14 years ago she rejuvenated the act and made it twice as funny, definitely my all-time favorite magic assistant).

Bruce, Penny, and AJ talk things over.

AJ spent a lot of time in his earlier years with Merv Griffin and he seems perfectly at home as host of a talk show. There probably hasn't been a better -- or nicer -- host for magical and carny guests since Johnny Carson. Check it out -- it's free! As of this writing AJ has just posted two more episodes, with Sylvester the Jester and with Brian Gillis, and I look forward to watching them.

Every so often, card books come out on specific topics -- the Faro shuffle, Triumph, the side steal, what have you. This month we get two such focussed volumes, from two longtime favorite authors, Lewis Jones and Roberto Giobbi.

GETTING PERSONAL-- Lewis Jones has come up with a unique take on card magic, a compilation of routines in which you deal cards (sometimes clumps, sometime single cards) in accord with some personal data (a name, a month, whatever) that you could not have known. This practice has various advantages over "give me a number," one of which is that they ask themselves the wrong question. ("How could he have known my girlfriend's name?") Several useful controls and forces are taught in the process. To mention a few goodies: One of my favorites is Lexicon, a book test that concatenates methods to make it truly baffling. Another, the Castlemaine control, is a nice alternative to the Ose cut. And finally, Persona is a deal-five-piles routine that improbably ends up with the makings of a royal flush atop the piles. (I would have used the words blondes and redheads rather than the ones Lewis used.) The book itself is also called Persona and will be an automatic purchase for Lewis Jones fans. Eighty pages, perfect bound a la The Book of Revelations, $45. I got mine from H&R Magic Books.

Special books.

SWITCHCRAFT -- Coming soon on the heels of his excellent Confidences is a new work by Roberto Giobbi, The Art of Switching Decks. The title tells the tale. This is a remarkable book of practical deck switches, 30 of them in 136 pages, followed by another dozen or so pages that direct you to 32 more switches in the literature, closing with a funny method involving a Lota bowl and then followed by a DVD that contains the performance/lecture that Roberto presented at the Genii bash. (I'm waiting for the Zabrecky DVD!) There is plenty in here that you can use, and, if you are like me, plenty that is new to you. I particularly enjoyed the cleverness of The Trojan Deck Switch (named after the horse, not the other thing) and The Tossed-Out Deck Switch which Dr. Hoy should have liked. This is a really important book, larger physically (a little over 7 by 10 inches) than Confidences, 163 pages plus DVD, $55, from Hermetic Press.

LUCY MEETS ORSON -- It has been a while since I've given a shout out to Alan Watson's wonderful Magic New Zealand which he emails to subscribers around the globe for free. Join the list, if you haven't already, at That Alan sends out so much and so often is staggering and much appreciated. Just as my Friday morning routine (see below) always began with checking Roger Ebert's movie reviews, my Magic New Zealand routine always begins with reading Nick Lewin's Remarkable Magic contribution. Sometimes he gives dead on performing advice of the caliber of Jeff McBride's Show Doctor contributions, and sometimes he simply reminisces about a life in magic.

Orson puts Lucy into a trance.

As of this writing, he is up to 297 episodes. Since the last writing, I've enjoyed E295: A warm anecdote on how David Copperfield came to acquire the harness for the Broom Suspension that Orson Welles used to levitate Lucille Ball on his guest spot on "I Love Lucy." E296: A glowing review of Adam London at the D, a new show in Las Vegas. E297: A review of a Castle parlor show featuring Tom Burgoon, David Sandy, and Jason Andrews along with an 82nd birthday drink with Milt. I hope these some day appear in a huge book with lots of photos. (Meanwhile, Nick has other great stuff for sale on his web site at, including the best linking finger ring routine I've ever seen.)

She's lighter than air!

P.S. If you have never seen the Orson Welles episode of "Lucy," you can watch the whole thing here.

TWO THUMBS UP -- For many years, my Friday morning ritual has been the same. Get up, brush my teeth, sit down at the computer, and log into Roger Ebert's movie reviews. As the world knows, Roger passed away on Thursday, April 10, and this is one of the most significant losses of our time. Roger was one of my life's heroes. It wasn't just that I wouldn't see a movie without checking his thoughts first, but that I envied his life's work, and his attitude. I don't envy his illnesses, but was amazed at the strength and grace with which he faced them. Fortunately Roger got his autobiography in under the wire, published in 2011 and now available on Amazon in hardback for a low $11.20. I can think of no better reading at this moment. I'll close with a few words I wrote in the October 2011 black-and-white Halloween issue:

Roger Ebert as I first knew him, 1967.

"My favorite movie critic in like, forever, is Roger Ebert. I first heard of Roger when I was a student at the University of Illinois, where he was editing The Daily Illini. I have of course followed his career ever since, as he is our most famous alumnus with the exception of Hugh Hefner. This month I had the pleasure of reading his biography, Life Itself, A Memoir. It is thoroughly enjoyable on many levels, even more so for me because of the university connection and because we both enjoyed Dan Curley as a writing instructor. (Roger has profited far more from that association than I.) Although Roger's early interests parallel many of those of my friends in and out of magic, I found only one specific 'magic' note: 'I was not gifted at sports but was sought after as an entertainer. I had the knack of reading a book and repeating its dramatic highlights. I'd walk around the block regaling my followers with the career of Harry Houdini.' A great book, and there were many passages at which I laughed out loud. Highly recommended. Hardbound, 436 pages, $27.99"

As I write this, I am pleased to note that one of Roger's final movie reviews was of the magic documentary Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay. Three stars. And the review raises a new mystery. Under what name did Ricky contribute a piece to an Ebert magazine back in Roger's college days?



Is there a rule that everyone on this show has to puncture himself?



Congratulations, Louisville. AND you are about to have a magic festival.

Little Egypt Magic is the erratically updated web site of Steve Bryant, spawned (the site, not Steve) by a former internet magazine known as The Little Egypt Gazette/for magicians only.

Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from an iMac in Bloomington, Indiana. He used to frequently journey to and perform magic in Little Egypt, the local name for extreme southern Illinois, where the towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak.

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