Note ye ed's email address:

Finally unearthed: The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts from H&R Magic Books.
It's to die for!
Check out Jamy Ian Swiss' review in our Bookstore.

December 2010

Christmas is looming, and I'm like that little Mysto-magic age boy who once was, impatient to rip open packages that, so Santa has led me to believe, contain Derren Brown's Confessions of a Conjuror and Roberto Giobbi's Secret Agenda. I'd love to provide a complete review of the books in this installment, but am honor bound to keep my distance until December 25. I fully expect, of course, that these books will easily make my top dozen of the year, and so they will be listed below. (Of course, I succumb to the same optimism when I read any book, watch any movie, and so on, to my wife's incredulity, but still, we are talking Brown and Giobbi here.) Along with this trip down the year's literary lane, we'll marvel at 21st-century changes to magic as we know it and we'll say farewell to one of the nicest magicians ever.

Meanwhile, to all of you, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

THE YEAR IN BOOKS -- 2010 was a remarkable year for books, not so much for heft (none weighed so much as last year's Magic 1400s-1950s, for example) as for merit. Two are from the venerable Hermetic Press, and two are from that most notable start-up, Vanishing Inc. Here are a dozen that came our way in case you need some last-minute shopping suggestions:

What Derren Brown is thinking.

Confessions of a Conjuror -- How could one not enjoy Derren Brown's stream of consciousness look at life from the point of view of a table hopping magician, containing such sentences as: The new deck of red-backed Bicycle-brand poker cards had that afternoon been worn in for the gig through bending and riffling and springing until the deck's spirit had been broken; in the way that a puppy, made to walk to heel, piss on the newspaper and not eat the roast, loses its bungling vigour and learns to behave? Poetry!

Secret Agenda -- Roberto Giobbi's magical book of days, potent entries from his notebooks, 366 of them, one for each day of a leap year. I hadn't paid sufficient attention to this volume until Mike Close ran a smattering of entries in his December issue of MUM, with controls, performance tips, and marketing tips of such why-didn't-I-think-of-that clarity that you can't wait to encounter the rest. I defy anyone to take a whole year to read through this.

Hermetic Press gets classy.

A magnum opus from John Moehring.

Del Ray America's Foremost -- An amazing biography of one of magic's most amazing performers, plus eight of his masterpieces explained. One of three books in this list that comes with performance DVDs that at least double the value of the offering. One of John Moehring's finest hours.

Ron Wilson tells all.

Tales from the Uncanny Scot -- Ron Wilson's reminiscences, charming anecdotes from the man who performed the world's greatest Chop Cup routine and Torn and Restored Newspaper, for movie stars and mortals, an integral part of the Magic Castle story. The stories are now all the more poignant, the DVD all the more special to watch.

One Degree -- It's refreshing to work through a new book of card material that begs to become part of your repertoire. John Guastaferro's first hardback is filled with stuff that demands audience viewing, and it's a beautiful book to boot.

Devastating card magic.

Ian Keable attends a lot of magic shows.

Magic Shows -- Ian Keable summarizes 30 years of magical programmes presented in Great Britain. What a nice record of who did what and when, the stuff of which reputations were made.

Magic in the woods.

Campfire Magic -- How many books on magic for kids contain completely worked out professional presentations, especially comedy magic presentations? Perhaps they all would if Mac King wrote them. Mac and his monkey friend make me want to be a Boy Scout again.

Rune's World -- Denmark's Rune Klan is one of the funniest magicians working today, which a few YouTube clips can prove. Half the book is a typically illustrated sleight of hand text, half is a graphic novel filled with stand-up comedy routines. It's like no magic book you've ever read.

Magic fit for the queen of Denmark.

Keep on truckin'.
Marketing Tips from the Grateful Dead -- It's not a magic book, but don't let the title fool you. If you're in magic for the big bucks, the really big bucks, you need this book.

CAAN Craft -- J.K. Hartman dives deep into the Card at Any Number waters and comes up with pearls.

The eight of hearts, 42.

Not your father's Benson bowl.

Vortex -- Is anyone as creative in so many areas of magic as Sweden's Tom Stone? OK, maybe Jim Steinmeyer, but few consistently come up with so many diverse, devious ideas. Tom's first hardback was long overdue and snapped up by his e-book fans.

Lefty immortalized.

Beating a Dead Horse -- As mentioned in January, Jay Marshall was an "amazing magician, ventriloquist, comedian, collector, raconteur, Punch & Judy operator, emcee, Broadway actor, magic shop owner, magazine publisher, book author, player of the ukulele and the bagpipes, world traveler, master teller of dirty jokes, and friend to thousands." Who better to write his biography than his award-winning son, Sandy? This whopper of a book is a feast for the eye as well as the mind.

The 21st century is well under way, and the future is now. This year, futuristic changes hit magic that would have been surprising even a year ago. A few of these follow.

MAGICAL AND REVOLUTIONARY -- So Apple claims, and so it is. The iPad has completely transformed the way I read books "on a computer," access email, watch Netflix movies, listen to internet radio, read the morning comics, check sports scores, play games, and gaze at the stars. I use both its audio and video capabilities in my close-up performances.

The magical and revolutionary iPad.

And I carry with me at all times such titles as Close-Up Card Magic, The Magic of Francis Carlyle, Beyond Compere, a dozen or so e-books from Tom Stone, and complete files of The New Phoenix and The Bat, among others. This may be the coolest toy I have ever owned. I urge anyone creating or advertising for the digital age to seriously consider this platform foremost in your plans.

THE iGENII -- Step 18 of Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead is "Free your content." A few years ago, The New Yorker did just that, making all its back (and current) issues available to subscribers online. What a way to encourage reader loyalty! In a recent bold move, Richard Kaufman did the same with Genii, making all 70 years of the magazine just a few clicks away to anyone with internet access. This he accomplished by teaming up with Bill Kalush's Ask Alexander resource, which provides excellent search tools for delving into decades of issues that have been scanned into pdf format. In an even more radical shift, Richard has created a dazzling new online and interactive version of current issues of the magazine, available now on your desktop and coming soon to an iPad. One only wishes William Larsen, Sr., could see it and be amazed.

The iGenii.
THE iCONVENTION -- In July, Luis de Matos, along with Marco Tempest, David Britland, and thirty of their A-list friends, broadcast the Essential Magic Conference, the first digital conference for magic and magicians. Attendees not only witnessed performances and lectures by the best of the best, but could chat in real time and pose questions. It was almost like being there. Although we covered this in detail in the July installment, it's important to highlight it again as a radical 21st-century method for mounting a magic convention. I loved "attending," and the best parts for me were being introduced to Ponta the Smith and Dani DaOrtiz. Nice work, guys.

Sometimes Dani DaOrtiz and Lennart Green seem to be the same guy.

ALOHA, RON WILSON -- Each year, we lose more magicians than I like to dwell on, and I don't consider the Christmas season a time for posting obituaries. Nonetheless, I cannot ignore this week's passing of Ron Wilson, one of my all time favorite magicians, and people, that it has been my pleasure to know. His new book is mentioned above, and it is a must read. It's hard to believe that Ron retired from magic some 32 years ago. I can still see him coming through the curtains in the Magic Castle's Close-up Gallery, with his cardboard cup from Coffee Dan's. It was a delightful magic show, charming throughout.

Ron Wilson, the Uncanny Scot.

Peace on Earth, good will to men.

And given that it's Christmas, we indulge in family visits ...

One grandkid attends a Star Wars convention, another a Chicago street fair.

Sarah and Simon (Vixen and Spike to old Gazette readers) were married on April 1, 2006. You may access their wedding photos at wedding photos.

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 frequently journeys to and performs 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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