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Joshua Jay lectures in Indianapolis.
In case you missed it, check out February's Magi-fest issue. Josh and Andi and Tim Moore threw the first great party of the year.
Welcome to May, what is left of it. My alternate interests have seriously eaten into my disposable time this month, and I hope to have an important announcement about that soon.
Meanwhile, to magic, I thoroughly enjoyed a live Joshua Jay lecture this month, along with a filmed Rob Zebrecky lecture, a free online magazine, a fabulous Tenyo trick, a racy Amy Shumer vignette, and various Scott Wells podcasts. The Zabrecky lecture and the magazine were instances of my catching up to things that have been around a long time. More details below: enjoy.
Many of you are making plans to spend five days in St. Louis at the IBM/SAM do. For those new to the area, I encourage you to allow some time to visit the City Museum. It's magical in its own way and is anything but a museum. You can read about it at its official site or read about my own visit back in "Down the Rabbit Hole". Great fun, with a magic show thrown in.
TRICKS ON TOUR -- I love it when a magazine article or a podcast or a television special or a live show or a convention reinvigorates my love of magic. Or a lecture. Such was the case with a recent lecture in Indianapolis by Joshua Jay. Josh is arguably the most dedicated student of magic since Dai vernon, having studied, performed in, and collaborated with others in fifty-nine countries. The Indy lecture was his last in a twenty-eight-city tour of the United States (made more enjoyable no doubt because he was traveling with his fiance), and following a ten-day break he will begin a nineteen-city European tour. Whew.
As to the lecture itself, Josh performed (and explained) a show of fourteen tricks along with eight minutes of interesting theory, and all was top notch. Given that Josh has created and marketed an enviable number of practical and commercial tricks himself, served as the host of MAGIC's trick column for well over a decade, and is half of my favorite magic shop, he has much to choose from, and the crowd, four of whom came all the way from Cincinnati, sensed that we were seeing the creme de la creme.
Josh shares his Prism deck.
It's really hard to pick any favorites, so I'll ramble. Josh's Hitchcock card trick and his work with Troy Hooser's coins on ribbon are always lovely. Of some recently marketed tricks, Inferno really impressed me. Josh came up with what he calls asymmetric equivoque to narrow a deck to four cards, then a brilliant out of the box method to get to the final card. (There was also a very funny Mac King anecdote in here.) As to book tests, I had known that Glance was basically the Mother of All Magazine tests, but didn't realize what additional methodology and presentations had been built into it. Nice. Corner Plus was a vanished bill to anyplace that was almost too good to be true, but it was that good. An amazing trick for anywhere, any time. Josh has long performed and taught a squeaky clean vanish of three coins, originally involving a flipper coin, but has now come up with a new gaff to achieve the same clean effect (actually, better: you produce and vanish the coins), and there is far less likelihood of anything ever going wrong mechanically.
Although Josh is a layman's magician at heart, he is also very much a magician's magician and can fool the best of us. That was the case a couple of MAGIC Live!s ago with his ring and wineglass segment in his one-man show. In the lecture, he similarly fooled us with a Sherlock Holmes sketch. While Josh was blindfolded, one of four audience members was selected to pick any of five decks, then a card from the deck, and then to place the card in a glass, back to the audience, and cover it with a silk. Via some very funny audience questions, Josh as Sherlock divined the spek, the deck, and the card. I was convinced that the only way it could be done was for his girlfriend to stooge for him in the back of the room. So wrong: it was another exceedingly clever out of the box one-man method, which he was nice enough to share. All in all a terrific two-hour magical pick me up.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to lecture in so many amazing places, but you can by checking out Josh's rich photo album here.
P.S. Given that this was Indy, Caleb Wiles was in the audience, and he also reinvigorated my magical interest with two new card tricks, a Tribute to Harry Riser and a gaffless version of Dani DaOrtiz's Triple Intuition. Ask him about them the next time you see him.
THE ABC MYSTERIES -- One of the highlights of the Genii Bash was to finally see Rob Zebrecky in person. I became a fan years earlier when he posted his very first web page, and even more so a fan as his Odd Man character developed. It took a lot of thinking to get to be one of the hottest "overnight" successes that Rob is today, and he shares that thinking in a two-hour Penguin Live lecture from Penguin Magic (penguinmagic.com). Nicely hosted by Nathan Kranzo, the lecture consists of three basic phases: a performance, a biographical segment, and Rob's Alphabet Talk. I had seen a briefer version of the Alphabet Talk earlier at Magi-fest, but in this one Rob talks at length on each topic. You know the drill: A is for Acting, B is for Balance, C is for Collaboration, and so on. Twenty-six mini-TED talks that will make you a better magician. An awesome two hours for under thirty bucks. (They always advise to "leave them wanting more." In this case, Rob mentioned two routines I have not seen him do, but would love to: A routine in which he abhors bananas, and the Skeleton Dance, where Rob does his patented dance moves behind a screen, and you see his skeleton doing the dancing.)
Straight from Charles Addams.
The even better news is that Penguin has 118 additional lectures available, some running to four hours, and most from names I'd love to hear from. I have some serious catching up to do. Each lecture was originally presented live online, and you could post questions to be answered on the spot. How cool is that?
THE GHOST RIBBON -- A lot of rope on ring routines look like something complicated from my Boy Scout knot-tying days. Not so with Tenyo's new Ring & Ribbon by Shigeru Sugawara. In his routine a red ribbon simply melts through a white plastic ring. Recently featured on the cover of Genii, this routine looks as good in person as it does on the videos. SEOMAGIC-USA got mine to me in two days, and I was performing it by the next. My personal presentation is to call it the Ghost Ribbon, turn on some spooky music (the theme to "Dark Shadows," via my iPhone), and do the routine silently just as Mr. Sugawara does. $75 plus postage and worth it.
An impossible penetration from Tenyo.
NO WONDER I DIDN'T SEE IT: IT VANISHED! -- Given that it boasts 100,000 downloads per issue, I must be the last magician on the planet, if not in the whole galaxy, to discover Paul Romhany's online Vanish magazine. This is a first-rate zine with Genii- and MAGIC-caliber writing, beautifully and professionally laid out to look great online from the get go, and the price is right: it's free. It appears every other month for that same low price (page count is well over 142), and then, once a full year has stacked up, the year's package is available to download for a low fee (under $10 for a year).
We're getting more celebs than we did at Brook Farm.
Vanish recently entered its third year with Issue 13, and what finally drew me to it was that two of my favorite magicians are regular contributors. Nick Lewin has the cover story with his interview with Daryl, and Steve Spill contributes "Ten Brushes with Greatness," insightful accounts of ten celebrities who have found their way to his Magicopolis in Santa Monica. The list includes Jaimie Lee Curtis, Meg Ryan, Stephen King, Bob Dylan, Rob Reiner, Mort Sahl, Andy Dick, Tom Green, Sara Gilbert, and Doug Henning. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about those encounters. You can either download the pdf or read it live at Vanish.
OMG! I'M GOING TO **** A MAGICIAN-- I don't want to turn this sheet into a launch site for YouTube videos, but last month I ran a link to a really funny clip from "The IT Crowd." Here's a similarly funny clip from "Inside Amy Shumer." When did the comedy writers start realizing magicians were such easy targets? My favorite line: "Are these even tricks?"
Amy is enchanted.
THAT WAS A GOOD ONE -- From time to time I mention Scott Wells's The Magic Word podcasts, as I listen to them regularly while working out in a gym. A recent two-parter that delighted me was his interview with Alex Ramon. Thanks to his talent and charisma and hard work Alex has led a charmed early life in magic, starring in Disney Live! Mickey's Magic Show, as zingmaster to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and as star of his own show, Illusion Fusion, in Lake Tahoe. Give him a listen and learn how it all came about, mostly through being honest with himself and with his backers. By the way, Alex's tag line, in his illusion show following a particularly amazing feat, was "That was a good one!" Find Alex and more at Scott's The Magic Word Podcast.
This would make a great Father's Day gift.
Spend some time with your mom.
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.
Opening lecture photo courtesy of Joshua Jay.
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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