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Season's Greetings.



The family tree.

December 2015

Season's Greetings!

You earn bonus points this month if you know where the above image is from (without looking at the explanation below). This month we take a look at twenty years of publishing Little Egypt Magic, at ways to help move Lucas Mackenzie and his ghost pals up the charts, and at the latest in magic news and reviews.

It's been a fun year, particularly getting together with many of you at Magi-fest, the Midwest Magic History Weekend, MAGIC Live VII, and the Genii convention. Reviews of the same have already been posted. I have also enjoyed the lovely books that many of you published this year and will be spending any free time in the holidays enjoying Todd Karr's magnificent edition of Martin Gardner's Impromptu.

Family time, including two excellent trips to Florida, makes life worth the trouble, and I'll close again this year with photos of my grandkids, who continue to make life fun all over again. As always, Maleficent and I wish you a very Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday suits your fancy, and a Happy New Year to all.

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK-- More specifically it was twenty years ago in August that we first launched The Little Egypt Gazette. The inaugural "Collector's Issue" featured the above graphic, excerpted from Richard Kaufman's new book Duffie's Card Compulsions, by Peter Duffie. Richard had spiced up the book with dozens of vintage line drawings along with the magic illustrations by Joseph K. Schmidt. I reviewed the book and was immediately chastised by a reader for doing a slipshod job, my first clue that there was someone out there. Okay, we have something going here.

What the first issue looked like (partial).

The next issue included my first interview (Wes Schield of Dallas & Co.), the following my first photo of Melinda, and by December the first of my marathon Christmas poems. I was running strong card tricks too, but you had to answer a simple password question to access them, and some readers were furious because they didn't know the answer and so demanded that I reveal the secret. Oh, that depended on how nicely they asked.

By the start of the second year, we had hit our stride and were churning out nearly forty pages of content a month, which was almost literally taking "eight days a week" to accomplish. (I was still working full time, raising kids, and somehow saw almost every new movie; why can't I find that time in retirement?) I had run out of new card material by then so took Richard Kaufman's suggestion to run tricks from the books I was reviewing. Publishers, especially Richard, were very generous. I finally reached burnout by the October 1997 special Eddie Fields issue and announced the end of the run. Most took me seriously, but I had written one more marathon Christmas poem, had no place to put it, and so by December created Little Egypt Magic to establish a new location, hoping to reduce the labor from forty pages a month to one page a month. The results are at your fingertips. The second year of the Gazette (plus some subsequent issues) and all of Little Egypt Magic are still online.

Dealer spotlight, November 1995.

My goal from the outset had been to establish a more "permanent" home for stuff I was writing on the internet. I had been writing a lot for David Lichtman's Magic! and Bruce Barnett's Electronic Grymoire and felt it would all just go away (silly me). The Gazette and Little Egypt Magic became a sort of magic diary; I could go back in time and find, say, my favorite tricks from a given book, or recall the fun I had at various conventions. That others would actually read along with me proved to be a bonus, and because of this I have made some of the best friends ever. So thank you, readers, for being there, and for encouraging me to keep this up. The twenty years flew by!

Postscript: What was life like way back in 1995? I reviewed the year in the magazine (the January 1996 issue), with these as the abbreviated highlights: Television specials included "The Magic of David Copperfield XVI Unexplained Forces" (My fav of the Copperfield specials), "Rudy Coby, the Coolest Magician on Earth," "Magicians' Favorite Magicians," and "The World's Greatest Magic II" (Loved Melinda and Penn and Teller on this). Favorite books included Jim Steinmeyer's The Magic of Alan Wakeling and Roberto Giobbi's Card College Volume 1. My favorite trick was Chuck Smith's Imagination from his What If? lecture notes. I visited the Magic Castle (loved Earl Nelson and Whit Haydn) and Louisville's Innovations in Close-up convention (highlight was a Gary Kurtz cabaret act). I performed at Mysteries (Kevin King's and Carl Andrews' state park venue) and opened in the middle of the night for Elvis at a post prom (Elvis impersonator and local mayor Bruce Borders, "By day the Mayor, by night the King"). There is nothing like sharing burgers and shakes with Elvis at 3:00 A.M.

LOVE ME DO -- It is common, among those who produce free podcasts or free internet resources, to occasionally request a small financial donation to help meet expenses. I'll spare you that request and instead offer several more win-win options. As faithful readers know, I published a novel this past February, Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show. It's a fun afterlife adventure set in the closing days of the midnight ghost show era. You can read all about it in the March 2015 issue including my interview by zombie correspondent Gus Grime from radio station WZMB. There are several ways you can help spread the word about Lucas.

Take a copy home. Take two!

First, the obvious: Buy the book. Lucas is a handsome 222-page paperback available from the usual sources, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and is also available directly from the publisher at Full retail is $14.99, and the book is also available as an e-book for less than a pack of Bicycles. Although it is being marketed as a middle-grade novel, I wrote it for everyone, especially magicians who will find surprises others will miss.

Second, if you have read the book (and thanks to those who already have!), please log into the sale sites or to post a brief review and drop off as many stars as your heart sees fit.

Sign the Guest Book!

Third, and this one doesn't hinge on your reading the book: The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is hosting a Book Launch Party for its members who launched books in 2015. The party runs from December 1 through April 1 of next year. Please drop into my launch page and sign the guest book. That's it: we just like to hear from you.

Vote for Lucas!

And finally, Month9Books itself is hosting a little in-house popularity contest. Please check in and vote for Lucas, both as Favorite MG Book and for Favorite Book Cover. Thanks! You will make Lucas happy and Columbine proud.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET -- Back in 1968, I purchased an Electric Deck from Lin Searles, who at that time ran a magic shop in Pasadena. He threatened to tell the boys at the Magic Castle that I had done so, that I was not actually skilled. (This in itself was of course a joke: I never created the illusion of skill.) My plan was actually more dastardly: I was purchasing it to rip off a gag from Lou Derman's Friday Night Lou act, all this in the days before I knew better. The deck itself was about 25 bridge-size Fox Lake cards strung together to enable you to do impossible cascades. Amazingly, I still have it 47 years later and it still works.

Electric Deck Pro spread.

All of which brings us to my purchase of a second electric deck, the Electric Deck Pro (by Magic Wladimir) from Penguin Magic. (And the "Pro" isn't hype: Wladimir features the deck in a BMW commercial.) Hand-sewn from a real Bicycle deck, the deck spreads widely, face up or face down, or you can spread the cards from hand to hand as if offering for a selection, and it looks like a perfectly normal deck of 52 cards. The cascades themselves look even better, so much so that you would be better off not doing the usual gags (the Niagra Falls shuffle, etc.) and instead use the deck for faux skill. As the ads say, "look like a cardistry master with no practice." $34.95 when in stock, from Penguin Magic, instructional video online. Highly recommended. Now, will this last as long as my original electric deck? Get back to me in 2062.

(Full disclosure: The Electric Deck Pro is actually my third electric deck. My second was Danny Rudnick's Selec-Trick Deck from Magic, Inc. which allows a selected card to reverse itself in the spread. Nice!)

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS -- Have you ever wanted to do a two-person mental act but thought the code work was just too tough (or would test the limits of your significant other)? Jim Steinmeyer's Affirmative Code in the December 2015 Genii may be just the solution you've been seeking. Your partner begins making a series of statements, and you immediately respond to each with a yes, this continuing until the complete thought is transmitted. I don't pay sufficient heed to the tricks that appear in magazines, but this one jumped out at me. The coding is fun, deceptive, and easy to remember.

I assume that the trick will some day appear in a new Steinmeyer compendium. I notice that two such books rate current advertising from Jim, namely Technique and Understanding (reviewed here October 2009) and The Conjuring Anthology (reviewed here May 2006). Both should be in your library.

All the way from Bloomington to London.

ROCKY RACCOON -- Okay, this one sneaks in because of the opportunity to use the title, but I am pleased to note that David Williamson (of Rocky fame) is anchoring the London edition of The Illusionists as the Trickster. I was fortunate to witness the show in person in Indiana and on NBC and am thrilled that the seven-performer paradigm works so well. Three of the current London troupe performed here in Bloomington (Inventor Kevin James, Escapologist Andrew Basso, and Weapon Master Ben Blaque), hence I know first-hand, if only partially, that the London audiences are in for a treat. (London also gets Manipulator Den Den, Deductionist Colin Cloud, and Magician Jamie Raven.)

At Christmas once again, we indulge in a family visit ...

Max, Audrey, and Charlie.

Peace on earth, good will to men.

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 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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