How long is it since you had what can only be described as an almost perfect day? I had one recently in New York. You know the kind of day I mean, when everything happens just right. There is a man in New York called Charlie Kalish. Professionally Charlie is an unsung genius of photographing and processing equipment, but in his spare time he collects magic things. So, on the day to be remembered, I am invited to see his place of work sometime before noon, and after the tour of the premises, (during which the boy wonder nodded and smiled at employees as if he were the president of the company on his tour of inspection), Charlie bid good-bye to his staff, and the rest of the day, and off we went to lunch, for which he paid. I ask you? Is there a better way to start off the day than to have someone pay for your lunch?
After lunch, next stop, Charlie's home, to meet his wife and daughter, (I try to keep the unimportant things short), then it's downstairs to the basement. Did I say he collects magic things? He told me that he had recently disposed of most of the larger items in his collection that what remained was the smaller stuff. What amazed me was not just the amount of the small stuff he has collected but the quality. Name a dealer, and he probably has a number of the choicest items that that dealer ever manufactured, and the majority of them are of the mechanical type, and they are of such a quality that they will never see the light of a dealer's catalogue again.
He has several items described in the Hoffman books which I believe have never been manufactured. Boxes for vanishing or producing coins one at a time, coin stars, a number of items which were the property of Hofzinser, countless boxless items of the ball box type. To coin a phrase, I collapsed like a folding half with a broken rubber band. Charlie also knows about clocks and he has several which he has forbidden me to describe, of the magical variety of course.
What next? Oh! Yes, paper. He has piles and piles of paper, magical ephemera, photographs, playbills, programmes, etc. and that, if I may say so is my line of country. At that point I felt a little sick and had to come up for air, when suddenly he socks me in the eye, with, "Have I shown you some of my Robert Houdin things?" Conradi, Bartl, Klingle, Willman, Basche etc., they were all represented in this basement of a home in suburban New York.
By now, it's around 6 o'clock, and Charlie drags me out to the car and off we go to dinner where we are joined by one Willie Schneider. I think I have said so somewhere before but Willie is one of the real nice guys in magic and Charlie couldn't have picked a nicer eating companion for me. (I am not sure who paid for this meal, but it wasn't me. The day is getting better). Next stop the American Legion Hall somewhere in New Jersey at which one of the world's leading lecturers on things magical was to demonstrate his ability. (Modesty forbids me mentioning his name). He did a good job that night, sold a lot of lecture notes, met some old friends, made some new ones, and when it was all over, Charlie drove him all the way back to New York City, perhaps around 2am. And so ended the almost perfect day. The only thing missing was sex. Maybe next time. Thank you Charles.
Now contrast the above with one day last week. I take my wife for a walk in the park, (we don't talk a lot but we do walk) and when we get back to the car park here's my car — gone. Taxi home, a frantic 'phone call to the police, plus arranging to hire a car the next day as I have a kid's show a million miles away. Later that night, (the plot thins), the police call me to tell me they have recovered my car and they have it at the police station. Needless to say the contents were gone, a pair of shoes, a microphone, a prop that didn't belong to me, but worst of all, the roof of the car is caved in. A police sergeant told me they had found an eighteen year old youth jumping on the roof of the car like it was a trampoline. That was a bad day.
Piracy of magical effects is getting a lot of publicity in the magical press these days. I have a solution. It won't stop it, but if you want to make someone who has stolen a magical effect of yours, really mad go jump on the roof of his car.
A regular visitor to the Blenheim bar after the Magic Circle Monday Club nights, Pat has usually something new to show and failing a trick or gag will frequently tell a story with an Irish flavour and mostly one we have not previously heard. Among his best known tricks are a Cut and Restored rope, the Conway cigarette case, and what is not generally known (and we Eire pleased to put on record) the Sympathic Matchboxes in which the drawer of a half open matchbox closes as the drawer of another box is pushed open, an effect which can be repeated ad lib.
This particular gag is typical of the kind of his ideas. Take from the pocket a reel of what you claim to be invisible thread. Claim that whilst it is wound on the reel it is visible but once a length is pulled free it cannot be seen. With some difficulty you manage to get hold of the free end which you pull, and naturally the reel turns as the thread is pulled. A length is broken off and given to someone to hold. No-one can see the thread once it is off the reel. In fact none is pulled off.
To prepare attach the free end of the thread near the pocket. To perform take the reel out, of the pocket keeping it close to the body holding it in the left hand with the tip of the forefinger on the hole one side and the thumb over the hold on the other (1) when pretending to pull thread off the reel as the right hand moves away with the thread? the left also moves away from the body causing the reel to revolve. Pretend to break off a length and return the reel to the pocket. After giving the length to spectator pretend to drop it, having difficulty in finding it etc. and any other 'business' you can think of.
You now have some really invisible thread why not use it? Remember the old gag of blowing on the corner of a handkerchief breastpocket, pretending that the movement was caused by pulling on a piece of thread? Why not take your invisible thread by either epd and make believe that it is causing the movement of the hanky. Maybe you can think of other uses for this useful property
Of all the natty moves one comes across for the eternal Cups and Balls, this cutie 'takes the cake'.
Magician holds a cup in the right or left hand, tosses it in the air, and catches it, then places it down onto the table. Nothing new, but, the cup can immediately be lifted to reveal a load. The 'how' is unbelievedly easy — the load, be it a ball, apple, egg or whatever, is loaded in the conventional manner — i.e. the palmed load is introduced into the cup as it is held by the thumb and first finger across the rim. Once the load is inside the cup is tossed into the air so it revolves two complete times, and it is caught as it was held when being thrown, by the first finger and thumb. Centrifugal force keeps the load in the cup and the toss action prevents anyone catching a glimpse of the inside as it revolves.
The move is superbly convincing and angle proof. The required rhythm of the tossing action will take a bit of practise, but once you acquire the knack, you will use this move TOO often in a routine. You will then be faced with another problem. How many times not to use the move.
For some time now we have been considering having a Pabular Close-Up Convention. One of the chief problems has been finding a suitable venue which provides all the facilities required for such an event in particular one which has seating arrangements which allow all the spectators an uninterrupted view of the performance in comfort. We have found such a place, which in addition has the right atmosphere, with refreshments including soft and hard drink being at hand during the whole event. It is the Midland Institute, Birmingham which makes about as central as you can get and is just off the motorway and about ten minutes walk from the railway station. More about it next month.
Still with conventions, Don Lees is trying to whip up interest in the British Ring Close-Up Competition. If you can do seven to ten minutes intimate magic why not contact him at 15 Lodge Drive, Belper, Derbyshire DES 1AJ. Performers will be judged solely on Magical Entertainment with the accent on entertainment. They will be judged on one performance alone in front of an audience consisting of the general public with two magical and two lay adjudicators.
The idea of bringing in the lay public to form an audience is a welcome one for several reasons. Firstly, it should encourage those members whose magic is not angled towards magicians and have thus been inhibited from taking part. Secondaly, it will tend to change the attitude of those performers who do enter, towards making their magic more entertaining to non-magicians. This is an extremely important factor, especially to youngsters coming on to the magic scene in the hope of learning something of the art.
Competitions for Close-Up Magic have been a continuing problem for the organisers of such events for more years than we care to remember. At one such recent event we understand a competitor lost marks because he moved out in front of his table. Presumably the judges considered he should have performed his whole act seated behind his table. This seems to us to be nonsensical and makes close-up magic even more artificial than is usual at these events. The real charm of close-up magic is its intimacy and this is completely lost if the performer works from behind the table. This lack of close contact can to some extent be overcome if, a la Goshman, two members of the audience are invited to sit on either side of the performer, providing they are kept continuously involved in the action. Thus engaged they form a link between the performer and his audience and help to break down the physical and psychological barrier which the table presents.
Visitors to London over the past months have included Marv Long from Michigan, whose idea of magic is to pull coins up through the table with the implement generally used for unblocking sinks, and the continuous salt pour in which in addition to what usually happens salt streams in seemingly unlimited quantities from various parts of the clothing. Bob Haines from New Jersey, with a liking for warm British beer and card tricks. Of the latter he has one similar to, and almost if not as good as, 'Out of this World'.An ordinary pack is used and given to the spectator to shuffle and shown to be well mixed after which an OOTW kind of effect is performed. In playing with the above in the Blenheim Bar the following near miracle occurred. One magician gave another the pack to shuffle, cut and deal into two separate piles. When the cards were turned over one pile was seen to contain all the red cards and the other all blacks which surprised everyone including the man doing the trick. Any ideas?
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.