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Xavier Mortimer's music and magic rocks Magi-Fest 2016

Last month's January issue took a look at Tenyo-ism from Richard Kaufman, Still Waters from Bill Goodwin, a Vernon tribute from Dan and Dave, a new take on Grandmother's Necklace, and musings on hopes for 2016 and Christmases past.

February 2016

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm still enjoying having my magical batteries recharged by Magi-Fest 2016. Five years ago, with many conventions on the decline, I don't think anyone predicted its becoming one of the premiere conventions in the world, but Josh, Andi, and Tim have achieved just that. Magi-Fest is my must-attend convention of any year and sets the bar for any that follow.

Along with a look at Magi-Fest highlights we'll check out two of my purchases: Andrew Mayne's magic & mischief and Eric Leclerc's 3D Sports Paddle (from Danny Orleans). Fun stuff!

And sadly, a brief but fond farewell to Jim Patton. Jim was one of the coolest guys in magic.

A favor, please. Go to the Judge a Book By Its Cover site here and vote for my Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show cover, by Christa Holland. You don't even need to read the book. Thank you! (This must happen by February 12, 2016.)

OHIO STATEMENT -- As with any good magic show, Joshua Jay, Andi Gladwin, and Tim Moore made Magi-Fest 2016 look effortless. Not only did the boys have time to socialize, to man their Vanishing, Inc. booth, and to host and star in events, but all the little things clicked: registration was lightning fast, events started and (mostly) stopped on time, seating and audio-video were great, inexpensive food was available at crazy early and late hours, scheduling (an hour between events) was conducive to shopping and socializing, and both audiences and onstage acts were a perfect mix of old and new blood. In its 85th year, Magi-Fest has shaken off its retro reputation (change bags and feather flowers used to dominate) and looks like the convention of the future. Magic in Columbus is in very good hands.

Andy Greget's vintage apparatus.

Random favorite moments:

Impromptu magic in the lobby. The Big Three—Tom Gagnon, Howard Hamburg, and Tom Craven—held court for three days, at all hours, sharing three lifetimes of experience and creativity. Do these guys get paid? (Stuff I noted: Gagnon’s control of a slug of aces during a tabled cut, Hamburg’s split doubles, Craven’s three-pile key card placement.)

Tom Gagnon at work.

More impromptu magic: Asi Wind treated lobbyists to a full set on Thursday night. I was too late to break through the throng, but the gasps and applause were impressive.

The late-night version of “Fool Us” with Josh, Andi, and Tim in the Penn and Teller roles. Great contestant turns from my friends Glenn Morphew, Mark Doetsch, and Taylor Martin among others. The big climax was Doc Dixon’s Transposed Finger to Box illusion with a full-stage faux explanation involving black art, a monkey, and Josh’s wife. Everyone wound up winning free registration to Magi-Fest 2017.

Aaron Fisher’s lecture reminding me how good Panic is.

Brent Braun teaching the Charlie Miller table pass.

Adam Rubin describing his amazing new kid book, Robo-Sauce. A normal children’s picture book morphs into a robot book.

Eric Leclerc’s system for handling dumb common questions ("Can you make my wife disappear?") by turning them into a mystery.

Helder Guimaraes’ brilliant creations, my favorite being his Something’s Missing routine in which a blue card added to a deck is the exact one needed to replace a missing card. Also a super nice Card Under Coin routine.

Viral YouTube guy Steven Brundage’s insane speeds at solving Rubik’s Cubes. Must take enormous practice time. Host David Corsaro later invited him onstage, brought out a beautiful babe, and said, “Steven, this … is a woman.”

Josh’s razzle-dazzle world-record-setting discovery of seventeen selected cards in under a minute. We were the witnesses.

Josh Jay sets a world record.

Josh’s trick that fooled Penn and Teller explained (for those who missed it at the Genii convention). Soon for sale!

David Corsaro’s excellent magic: I’ll use his unprepared (no dupes) version of the Fred deck.

The local young man from the audience who started speaking to Asi Wind in Spanish when Asi said that English wasn’t his first language. An hilarious conversation in Spanish ensued.

Levent’s high energy one-man show with lots of linking rings. Were there ten? Fifteen? Later, his erudite lecture on the rules of stage magic, billiard balls, and Miser’s Dream. Levent these days is using lots of 3D printing.

Glenn Morphew frying a lady in the hallway with his cards to pocket routine (E equals M C squared).

Harrison Greenbaum making me laugh more than anyone else, first in his comedy magic act and then in his late-night adults only comedy set. His most quotable line (but I won’t) regarded his two favorite things in life. We’ve come a long way from Herman’s puns.

Chatting with Caleb Wiles about 26 Factorial news, the Blomberg book, and “Andy” gags.

Simon Coronel fooling us with a force of a symbol on our cell phones and stunning the guy next to me (“The best trick of the convention,” he said) with Clippo.

Jeff McBride lecture with magic both beautiful (Knots Off Silk) and hilarious (Benson Bowl routine, Baby on a Plane).

Shin Lim performing (and explaining!) his Pray for Paris act. Some asked me what the best part of the convention was. This was my answer.

Shin Lim performing the trick again on the monster gala show along with his Card to Mouth trick. What a gala show—every act a standing O. Awesome work from John Archer with his ukulele and Jeff McBride with his mask routine and perhaps the best kid he has ever had for the Miser’s Dream. But let’s talk about Xavier Mortimer. He became a favorite the first time I saw him do his Mirror Illusion, and it was on the show, but I was also blown away by his new musical number including Dance of the Shadows. After producing various objects on cymbals (How???), he began playing a clarinet, spotlighted against a white screen. Along with his shadow directly behind him, three other life-sized shadows played along with him, constituting a musical quartet. At some point, each of the other shadows in turn began to spin or pivot, as if there were a rod through each’s belly button. When it was Xavier’s turn, he pivoted as well, spinning in midair. Quite a surprise. And this was only the opener to the gala show!

Jim Turnpaugh teaching me and Mike Powers a Jim Snapp presentation for dealing seconds, thirds, fourths, and fifths. Sweet! Watch for it in Mike’s Linking Ring column.

Eric Leclerc’s comedy magic kid show, for over a hundred kids, followed by an interview by kid show expert Danny Orleans. It’s amazing the difference between what really plays for kids and what clueless dealers stock and sell as “kid show” material.

My favorite dealer items (reviewed below): Andrew Mayne’s new book, magic & mischief, and Danny Orleans’ 3D Sports Paddle. Other awesome products at Magi-Fest, previously reviewed here: Tenyo-ism, Blomberg Laboratories, and Nick Trost's Subtle Card Creations Volume 5.

The original H&R marketing in a tent.

Anyone who chatted with me about The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts. I love hearing about what you did for your Halloween shows.

And of course … anyone who chatted with me about Little Egypt Magic. (Or Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show.)

MAYNE-STREAMING -- Based on his creative magic tricks alone, I've been a fan of Andrew Mayne for most of the past two decades. His low-cost and often no-cost illusions make him the U.F. Grant of the 21st century, and I suspect he's just getting started. Check only the few of his offerings I've posted about here: Ghost Vision, Gut Buster, Body Morphin', Touching Sky, and Shock FX. In addition to his credits as a creator of magic tricks, Andrew finds time to be a television star ("Don't Trust Andrew Mayne"), a podcast generator, a blogger, a popular Twitter presence, and, lately, a best-selling author featuring magician-turned-FBI agent Jessica Blackwood in a series of thrillers. Not only is Andrew a fine writer, but is a marketing genius. Aspiring writers must check out his "100 No (or Low) Cost Ways to Promote Your Ebook" (on his blog). I am jealous on so many levels.

Andrew Mayne's latest.

His magic is fun to perform and often falls within the range of spooky stuff that I especially enjoy doing. Perhaps he shouldn't be so generous and should limit his material to himself and Rob Zabrecky. His latest softcover compilation is magic & mischief, containing ten practical, baffling effects. My favorites include iPain (a padded envelope is stabbed with ten pencils and then you produce a full iPad from within), Bowling Ball Teleportation (a ten-pound ball flies invisibly across the room), #Trending (a classic, killer bit of mentalism catches up to the Twitter era), Entrapment (the magi and a spek are linked by two sets of handcuffs yet easily separate), and Spirit Hoop (a haunted hula hoop brings back your invisible childhood friend). As clever as the methods are, the accompanying story lines are as charming. The book closes with an essay entitled "Magic & Story," containing new thoughts well worth considering. Soft-cover, handsomely laid out and photo-illustrated, 90 pages, $29.95. Available at I got mine from H&R Magic Books, where it quickly sold out at Magi-Fest 2016.

SOCCER ON A STICK -- The most magical looking trick I encountered at Magi-Fest 2016 was Eric Leclerc's 3D Sports Paddle, from Danny Orleans. Eric was first to notice some incredible retention of vision properties when combining a little soccer ball with a soccer-ball patterned paddle, using the paddle move with other standard ruses. Danny Orleans then brought a ton of work on this to the table, and it's all spelled out in a download, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced moves and multiple complete routines. "Do you know what they call soccer in England? Football!" At which the soccer ball changes to an American football.

Danny Orleans scores a hit with kids.

The download teaches it all wonderfully, including video of Danny performing the routine live for kids. They go crazy over it and want, so badly, to hold the props. It's easy to do and looks like trick photography. You get materials to do it as "Soccer on a Stick" or as "Baseball on a Stick" along with the football climax and access to the video. $30 from, though I don't see it up quite yet. Keep watching!

Easy to learn.

MOONDOGGIE -- Most of us, even the least likely, despite our ages, our paunches, our imperfections, cling to some romantic notion of ourselves, to some ideal that we might exude some allure to those bikini-clad girls in the Gidget movies, that we were the Charles Atlas on the beach, not the 90-pound weakling. In truth I can think of only one magician who rose to that level of perfection, Jim Patton, who passed away January 24. Jim was classically handsome (in magic I can think of only two who came close: Channing Pollock and Cary Grant), he was a California surfer, and he was a master with a deck of cards, all the elements of a life to be perfectly lived and enjoyed. My time with him was all too brief to know how it all turned out, but I trust well for the most part, and I'll treasure having known him and looked up to him. Aloha, Jim. (As you may know, Jim edited Magicana in Genii from February 1989 through December 1992. He wrote generously in the Intermission portion of that magazine within a magazine, and it's fun to re-read these to get a little closer to the author.)

My favorite surf shop, back in my California days.



A message from beyond.



It's Valentine's Day. Kiss somebody!



Make your sweetie's day. Valentine gift her a copy of Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show.

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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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Xavier Mortimer photo courtesy of Andi Gladwin.

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