Note ye ed's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A visitation from the Other Side.
Return to our black and white Halloween October 2019 issue to consider consider the fourth Genii convention, David Regal's Interpreting Magic, the trick David Regal Goes Psycho, and Steve Spill's Magic Is My Weed.
It's November already and time to give thanks for all that magic bestows upon us.
For this month in particular, Eugene Burger outdoes Houdini and returns with a new hardback, Eugene Burger: From Beyond, Carisa Hendrix goes LIVE with a Penguin lecture, and Bill Malone still makes me laugh and gasp on his Penguin lecture from 2016. Thanks to all!
Noted: Congratulations to Nate Bargatze for getting a TV shoutout from ESPN's Tony Kornheiser. How cool is that?
And from Alexa beside me, a joke: You know you overdid it at Thanksgiving ... when you can't swallow anything else without buttering it first.
HE'S BAAACK! -- Try as he might, and despite the countless seances held in his name, Houdini has never convincingly returned from beyond. October 31, 1926, was his last earthly appearance. I cannot help but smile, and I suspect there is an even bigger smile on the other side of the Great Divide, at knowing that Eugene Burger contrived a way to come back, in the form of two posthumous books, Eugene Burger: From Beyond (just published) and Eugene Burger: Final Secrets (two years away). Thanks to the speedy arrival of From Beyond, I just spent the last weekend in the very real presence of Eugene, happily immersed in his philosophy, his brilliant magic tricks, his sense of humor, and, even more so than I had dared hope, his iconic voice.
The story behind this feat will become legend. In 2010 Eugene approached his Mystery School colleague and close friend Larry Hass with the proposal that Larry write up all Eugene's unpublished material. The project was to be top secret, and the publication was to be postponed until Eugene's death. (After all, Eugene was still performing the material.) When Larry agreed and the two began collaborating, it became obvious that two books would be required. Eugene wanted the books to be read, hence a doorstop volume would compromise that enjoyment. By design, the first volume would conclude Eugene's discoveries in spirit magic and would be anchored by his spirit slate routine. The second would be anchored by Vernon's Trick That Cannot Be Explained. Complete details of the plan are spelled out in Larry's Introduction "From Beyond: Eugene Burger's Secret Project" and in the interview "Eugene Speaks!" Eugene was aware that the Bert Allerton book by Robert Parrish might have been better had Allerton lived long enough to supervise Parrish's work. Accordingly, he remained quite involved with Larry's work. (Eugene was always influenced by his Chicago magic roots, with early performance pieces from Bert Allerton and Matt Schulien. Even this final legacy owes to Chicago considerations.)
Happiness is a new Eugene Burger book.
The subsequent organization is a delight. PART ONE: MASTERWORKS contains two essays (including the landmark "A House with Many Rooms") and three tricks: Thirteen at Dinner, Shotglass Surprise, and Eugene's Gypsy Threads (he had five versions). By the way, it is worth reading everything in such a book. I am not a great fan of Gypsy Thread in general, but if I had skipped over this I would not have learned of Eugene's project of a large magical stunt for the Chicago White Sox, for which he drafted Danny Orleans to appear dressed as a giant baseball!
PART TWO: WISE REFLECTIONS AND STAND UP MAGIC contains six essays and six tricks, Among the tricks were such surprises to me as The Spot Card and The Paper Hat Mystery and such personal favorites as Voodoo Poker and The Last Dream.
PART THREE: HALLOWEEN MYSTERIES AND SPIRIT THEATER completes the record of Eugene's work on spirit magic, with three essays, a poem, and five trick sections. Among the essays was "Spirit Theater Show Order Materials," Eugene's and Larry's playlists for various shows they performed. I was pleased to note among them a couple of routines from The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts, and an effect called Disguise is a decidedly spooky use for a Full Light Seance cloth. Dr. Slade and the Night Visitors is his "anchor" routine, a spirit slate routine in which all four sides of two slates are numbered via colored chalk, and then spirit messages are received on all four numbered sides in chalk of a different color. Creepy and baffling!
By the way, in addition to his Mystery School colleagues Jeff McBride and Larry Hass, Eugene had many friends who shared his love of mystery effects over the years. No doubt his most creative and informed collaborator and confidant over his career has been Max Maven, and that is the case with some of the material in this book. Indeed, Max takes over the writing himself for his mechanical approach to Thirteen at Dinner.
All the way back to Spirit Theater, we have known that Eugene employed poems in his spirit magic shows. New to me is his use of "The Elf Child" (the original name for Riley's "Little Orphant Annie"), provided here on audio, and he includes the complete text of two Tennessee Williams poems and of Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Ballad of the Harp Weaver." I can attest from experience that these are wonderful mood-setting additions to a spook show.
Let's put on a spook show.
Larry Hass has done a splendid job of assembling, writing, and producing this prized volume. When it arrived, my immediate reaction was that it was gorgeous. It is. In physical heft it matches Eugene's five hardbacks from Richard Kaufman. The elegant design and layout are by Stina Henslee, and the charming instructional and spot illustrations are by Jay Fortune. (All chapters close with a drawing of a hand, in a posture known as Gyan Mudra, and I got a kick out of the "blackout" on page 194.) Numerous photos are relevantly tucked into the text, and the center of the book holds eight pages of glossy photos in full color. The book provides secret access to fifteen video and/or audio online resources, a great complement to the book but one I advise enjoying as soon as possible. Recall that the original edition of Spirit Theater included a phonograph record. Today's new readers must wonder what the heck that is!
But the bulk of the work went into the content, and here is where Larry put in all the hours to share unpublished routines, essays, interviews, scripts, edited drafts, and talks, along with a few "previously published items that felt so essential, so necessary to include in this capstone project." (Note: In order to keep the "posthumous project" to a reasonable -- readable! -- size, six close-up routines and several essays had already been diverted to Larry's and Eugene's 2017 book Teaching Magic.)
The final product, a gift from the Other Side, is hardback with dust cover, 8.5 by 11 inches, 240 pages, $79.95, from TheoryandArtofMagic.com or select dealers. Props for a couple of the tricks are available from the quoted source, as is a lovely signed poster of the program Ghosts.
The highest accolade I can give this new book is that I feel I've just spent a weekend with Eugene. How nice to have you back, old friend!
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DEE DEE -- (OK, apologies for the headline.) Back in September 2018, I posted my first notice of Carisa Hendrix, aka Lucy Darling, as part of a piece on two magicians who have an extraordinary ability to be in the moment with their audiences. (The other was Pop Haydn.) Ever since, I have been acutely aware of Carisa and her characters, including her brilliant work performing at and emceeing the recent Genii convention. This month, I fed my interest in Carisa by downloading her five-hour master class from Penguin, Carisa Hendrix LIVE. What a delightful way to spend an afternoon.
Lucy Darling knows who's handsome.
Carisa's Penguin lecture contains two complete performances, one as Lucy, and the other as her kid show character Dee Dee. I like Dee Dee just as much as I like Lucy, and for the same reason: she makes an amazing connection with her audience. How Carisa recasts the same tricks that Lucy does for a hip Magic Castle audience to what Dee Dee does for a lively kid show audience is a wonder.
Dee Dee creates a special moment.
Beyond the performances, Carisa participates in interviews with Dan Harlan, and she lectures in great detail on all aspects of her tricks, including how to construct them and how to pack them up. The interview with Dan revealed that Lucy was born of a full-day workshop with Rob Zabrecky, work with an accent coach, an admiration for old Hollywood movie stars, and a "secret" premiere around the world in Australia. The accent is amazing in itself. It sounds to me part Southern, part British, part Mae West. Carisa calls it transatlantic, with Scottish and English vowel sounds and a little of Q from "Star Trek." How else to impersonate a boozy, "classy bitch"?
As to the magic tricks, I didn't download the lecture merely to broaden my knowledge of Carisa's characters. I downloaded it because, alas, five of the seven tricks that Lucy Darling performed fooled me (including one that did not fool Penn and Teller), and the two that didn't (Chop Cup and Multiplying Bottles) had elements that surprised me. (Surprised sounds less emasculating than fooled.) I wanted to know how the tricks were done!
How we produced drinks in the old days.
Carisa did not disappoint. The "fooler" Lucy tricks for me were Think-A-Drink, book production (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), jam production (eight minutes of mentalism with no props), ring on chain, and Reconciliation (a three-part prediction revealed as a balloon animal of a chosen color). Added to the Lucy tricks were several for the kid show involving bubbles, including a Kid in Bubble closer that would be the highlight of any show. To concoct these methods Carisa had to be part magician, part mentalist, part chemist, and part mechanical engineer. Marvelous. As quoted back in 2018, "Often she is the smartest guy in the room."
An instant download, $39.95 from penguinmagic.com.
I've mentioned in the past enjoying Carisa's Shezam podcasts that she conducts with Kayla Dresher. I've been catching up on those recently as well and highly recommend the interviews with Stephen Bargatze, Chris Capehart, and Erik Tait.
BILL MA-LONE -- When I was downloading the Carisa Hendrix LIVE lecture from Penguin, I encountered access to my previously purchased lectures, including those from Brian Gillis, Rob Zabrecky, Dani DaOrtiz, Eugene Burger, Harry Anderson, and Bill Malone. I made the time-wasting (?) mistake of clicking on Bill Malone and watched it twice before finally getting around to Carisa. He is so skilled and so funny.
Bill tells all.
For those interested, here are some of my notes originally posted in August 2016:
But what if you already own all three L&L sets and still need a new Bill Malone fix? Ah, the answer is the subject of this piece: the Penguin Bill Malone Live lecture for only $29.95. It's a 190-minute visit with Bill in the familiar Penguin format, including interjections from and conversations with Dan Harlan. A random smattering of the content incudes Steve Forte advice on jogs, lots of praise for Mr. Forte in general, potent gags, advice on card handling in general, the Optical Shuffle, a Ben Earl false shuffle (looks great), a Marlo Ribbon Spread Palm, an Edward Victor money count gag, details of the Vernon vs. Marlo multiple shift, Bob Stencel on the Elmsley count and palming and Triumph, Marlo's Triumph including how to set it up, tales of Bill starring on "NCIS," and the funniest adlib Bill ever came up with. And the best take away from the entire visit? Bill is finally working on a book of his stuff. I love the Penguin lectures, and this immediately became a favorite. Instant download, $29.95.
I imagine that magic is very much like a house with many rooms.
-- Eugene Burger
Follow us on Twitter.
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.
Past issues of this web site: Index to Past Issues
Closing photos since 2007: Rotogravure
Notice: Any limited use of copyrighted images or quoted text is considered fair use, usually to review whatever product or event that is under discussion. If you object to use of any material, please get in touch and it will be cheerfully removed.
A JSB Creations product
Copyright© 2019 by Steve Bryant