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Free essays!

In case you missed it, check out last month's Burn Unit issue, featuring the Amazing Johnathan.

May 2013

Spring at last! As I have been concentrating on other projects recently, magic has fallen to a distant second place in my time budget. Nevertheless, I was able to cobble together a few items of interest this month, namely: a fabulous free book from Vanishing Inc., two new episodes of Burn Unit, a bargain edition of the Don Alan book, and good wishes for Erika Larsen's Beyond Brookledge convention and for next year's Magi-fest. Meanwhile, I hope to see many of you next month in Kentucky for the Louisville International Festival of Magic, Illusion, and the Unusual.

MAGIC IN THEORY -- In the Blandings Castle series of P.G. Wodehouse novels, castle owner Lord Emsworth devotes all his energies and affection to the Empress of Blandings, his prize-winning pig. In the evenings, once he has bid good night to the Empress, he finds solace as he reads himself to sleep with Whiffle's On the Care of the Pig, the bible of pig raising. I find similar solace reading books on the theory of magic, in particular those by Eugene Burger. Joshua Jay at Vanishing Inc. has recently put together a Whiffle-scale book on magical theory called Magic in Mind that features not only Eugene but a much broader spectrum of magical thinkers, including Darwin Ortiz, Derren Brown, Juan Tamariz, Rene Lavand, David Kaye, David Regal, and many, many others, some long-gone, some still at the very forefront of magic. Josh originally saw this as a book for young magicians: he calculates that you would have to spend $4000 for all the books from which the essays were drawn, a task even more frustrating given that many of those books are not available at any price. Josh attempted to limit the material to essays that either broke new ground or were the definitive work on their subjects.

Biographical notes on the contributors highlight the text.

Here then, organized by theme into ten sections with biographical notes on the contributors, are 555 pages to challenge you, to enlighten you, to make you feel good about magic. Being an old coot I no doubt have spent the four grand and could root around my library to find these essays, but it is super handy to have them all on one convenient location. This is not to say that I had previously read all the material; there were delightful surprises, such as back and forth correspondence between Brian Brushwood and Teller. The one convenient location, by the way, is my iPad. This is an e-book, and the price is even more convenient: it's free. Just mosey on over to Vanishing Inc. and it's yours!

ROAD TRIP-- Last month we featured Amazing Johnathan's new internet television show, Burn Unit (at This has quickly become my favorite internet tv show. OK, it's my only internet tv show, but I still love it. Since last month, AJ has posted two "road trip" episodes, one with Sylvester the Jester and one with his pal Brian Gillis. Sylvester shows off some of his insane inventions, and Brian has long been one of my favorite closeup magicians. These were filmed at AJ's home in Los Angeles, and it's simply great fun to watch friends converse. Watch Brian dance! Watch AJ's four ace trick! I hope AJ has one planned soon with Milt.

Brian and Amazing Johnathan.

RANCH HAND -- On television in the 1950s and early 1960s, there was only one close-up magician: Don Alan. He was the trendsetter, the one we all wanted to emulate, and for good reason. He was so cool that he appeared on Hugh Hefner's "Playboy After Dark," so universally appealing that he appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show," so hospitable that we all vacationed at "Don Alan's Magic Ranch." He brought hard-hitting commercial Chicago-style bar magic into our homes, and we loved him for it. I certainly did, and a copy of Pretty Sneaky was at my bedside throughout high school.

Don Alan comes to your iPad.

In 2000, author Jon Racherbaumer released Don Alan's magnum opus, In a Class by Himself/The Legacy of Don Alan, and it's one of those really special books that encapsulates a working professional's entire act along with the thinking behind it. Rate it up there with Albert Goshman's Magic by Gosh, Tom Mullica's Showtime at the Tomfoolery, and Harry Anderson's Wise Guy. The 309-page book is still available from L&L Publishing and is a bargain at $49.95. So why mention it now? Ah, because L&L is making all of its books available as e-books, and every so often prices them special at only $9.95. May was the month for the Don Alan book. When I was in high school, it was unthinkable that such material could be available period, not only inexpensively, and certainly not on so wonderful a toy as an iPad. Thank you, Louis!

ERIKA'S FOLLIES -- Erika Larsen is one of my favorite characters as well as one of my favorite people in magic (not always the same thing), and one of my big regrets in having moved from California is that I don't get invited to her Brookledge Follies, a variety show held in the theater of the old Thayer-Larsen home known as Brookledge. This year, with Bob Self, she is throwing a new show billed as "a fully-immersive, all-hours, theatrical experience featuring incredible entertainers and special guests in visually-stunning, non-traditional performance spaces." Those performance spaces, along with your accommodations and dining, will be at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, California, a funky-looking place indeed, so right for a magical weekend. Performers include Amazing Johnathan, Rob Zebrecky, Chris Korn, Mike Caveney, Tina Lenert, Max Maven, Eugene Burger, Derek Hughes, and many others. At $1500 it isn't cheap (the fee includes dining and lodging), but it should be an unforgettable experience. Alas, family duties and my lack of proximity to Riverside will deny me the pleasure, but there is still time for you to attend. Beyond Brookledge, May 31-June 2.

Spend a weekend here with Erika Larsen and friends.

WINTER WONDERLAND -- OK, the above is unconventional. And while we expect Josh's and Andi's second Magi-fest to be unconventional as well, it is returning to a conventional home. In its first new instance, the resurrected Magi-fest outsold its expectations and outgrew its very nice new hotel in Dublin. The better news is that next year Magi-fest is moving back to the Crowne Plaza, up by the brewery, home to many successful Magi-fests past, and showing off a five-million-dollar makeover. Some of my favorite moments in magic have occurred in that establishment, and I look forward to more. Jan 30-Feb 1, 2014.

Free parking at Magi-fest!



Sylvester the Jester's new Insto-Mallet.



Show your mom a card trick.

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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