Magicians Fool or Entertain?

Inside Magic Image of Penn & Teller's Fool UsWe were thinking about the television show “Fool Us,” starring Penn & Teller.  It is a great show and has taken off with magician and non-magician viewers alike.  But we continued our thought.

Isn’t Fool Us the last thing we want to do as magicians?

We eschew two types of tricks: ones that make the audience volunteer look foolish; the brunt of a gotcha trick.  You know the ones – the magician is smart and the volunteer looks  stupid.  We’ve been on the receiving end of such a trick and even with our comfort on stage generally, being a volunteer is a stress-inducing situation.   The last thing we wanted was to look like an idiot in front of a crowd.  We would much prefer to do that on our own – that didn’t come out  right but you know what we mean.  We did Sucker Sliding Die Box for more the 20 years and have no place to issue such a blanket statement but we just did so sue us.

The second type of tricks we don’t care to see or perform are effects that are really just puzzles.  This category seems related to the one above.  We have important exceptions to this rule though for Magic Squares and sophisticated “memory” effects.

So back to Penn & Teller’s show.  While it is titled “Fool Us” it could be titled “Entertain Us.”

This is what audiences seek.  We don’t go to the orchestra to see how well the cellist fingers and applies her bow to the strings.  First of all, we wouldn’t know what to look for; second of all, we’re there for the music.  We have done a complete search of all posters ever generated for orchestral performances (in English, French and German – we could find none in Esperanto) and not one of those posters invited audiences to attend the show to watch individual musicians play their instruments.  We did find one reference to Dizzy Gillespie with enlarged cheeks whilst blowing his horn as no one else has or will.   But that was a one-off.

We know a magician who begins his close-up performance with about five minutes of banter and introduction to the audience before a single card is shuffled (it is philosophical idea, we know a single card cannot be shuffled).  There is entertainment and later in the act the audience and the magician appear amazed at the effect performed.  They have shared a relationship that began with introductions, communications and a short-lived bind.  But it wouldn’t make the first cut for “Fool Us.”

All of this is just our random thought as we looked up the next showing of “Fool Us” because we find the show so entertaining.

Magic Castle Bucket List to be Fulfilled

Ticket to the Magic Event of the YearWe thought our Bucket List was complete when we were admitted as a Magician Member of the Academy of Magical Arts and their wonderful clubhouse, The Magic Castle.

But we found more to add to the list we would like to do before we kick the bucket; or, more likely stumble over the bucket in our sleep.

How about a virtual tour of the Historic, L.A. Estate, Brookledge, featuring Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, Neil Patrick Harris, Dick Van Dyke, Paul Reubens & More?

The event is being presented by the the Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Charitable Foundation on May 10th to benefit the Dai Vernon Foundation.

What is Brookledge?  Why it is only the forerunner of the Magic Castle.  The cost is $10 per ticket and that money will go to a very worthy cause in the Dai Vernon Foundation.  The foundation is dedicated to providing financial aid to those pursuing an education; launching ambitious performances, researching or undertaking historical projects; and supporting those in difficult circumstances or suffering hardships. It also conducts community outreach via performances at hospitals and other charitable organizations. Over the years, the foundation has provided grants to hundreds of magicians, performers and employees in need, including 165 COVID relief grants over the past year.

As a former member of the Dai Vernon Foundation Board, we can testify that it is a worthy and incredibly dedicated organization that typifies the best in our Magical Arts.

The  star-studded, virtual fundraiser, Brookledge Cares, will be held by the historic Brookledge estate, May 8 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.

This benefit will feature a who’s who of magic and Hollywood, including Neil Patrick Harris, Dick & Arlene Van Dyke, David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Paul Reubens, Larry Wilmore, Jason Alexander, Michael Carbonaro & Peter Stickles, Puddles Pity Party and Moby.  Special appearances by Rob Zabrecky, Marawa Wamp, Basil Twist & Ken Ard, Shoot Ogawa, Steven Banks, Aaron Grooves, Armen Ksajikian and more.  Hosted by Two-Headed Dog (Jim Turner & Mark Fite) and Liberty Larsen.

The event will also offer a personal tour by Liberty Larsen, a rare glimpse into the location considered the “forerunner” to the AMA’s world-famous clubhouse, The Magic Castle, the historic Brookledge estate, owned by the Larsen family, founders of the Magic Castle.

You can both donate & buy tickets at:  http://www.DaiVernonFoundation.org/Brookledge

Although on hiatus during the pandemic, The Brookledge Follies, an invitation-only, “contemporary Vaudeville,” variety-and-magic show, is performed once a month (April-November) in the estate’s small theater. The free show has become one of the hottest tickets in town and is frequently attended by such Hollywood elite as Sophia Vergara, Joe Manganiello, Ryan Gosling, Jason Alexander, Christina Hendricks, Jason Sudukis, Danny Elfman, Matthew Gubler, Randy Newman, Paul Reubens and director John Landis, to name a few.

That is precisely why it is on our Bucket List.  We long to see it.

Launched with a bequest from the estate of renowned close-up magician Dai Vernon—the only magician to ever fool Harry Houdini—upon his death in 1992, the Dai Vernon Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, aides, elevates and recognizes practitioners and supporters of the art of magic at all levels and in all walks of life.

More information about the famous Brookledge estate:

The Magic Castle was founded by writer, actor, magician and entrepreneur Milt Larsen (formerly a writer for the 1956-77 television show Truth or Consequences); his late brother, Bill Larsen, Jr. (a former producer of the Danny Kaye and Jonathan Winters variety shows); and Bill’s wife, Irene, who remained the Castle’s ever-gracious hostess until her death in February 2016.

Members of the Larsen family have been performing magic continuously since the mid ’20s, with the fourth generation now on stage. Milt and Bill’s parents, Geraldine (“Geri”) and William Larsen, Sr., both performed as professional magicians and are noted pioneers in the art. Beginning during the Depression in the late ’30s (the Vaudeville era), the family—now including Bill, Jr., and Milt—began touring as the “Larsen Family of Magicians,” playing upscale, resort hotels in southern California.

A stage constructed at their historic Brookledge estate—built in 1933 in L.A.’s Hancock Park and purchased by the Larsens in 1942 from the founder of the Thayer Magic Company, which they also acquired—became an informal gathering place for the magic community of the day. Virtually every famous name in illusion visited and performed at the estate, often referred to as the “forerunner to the Magic Castle.” Retired from life on the road and managing the magic apparatus company, Bill, Sr., dreamed of opening an elegant, private clubhouse for magicians, but died at just 48.

In 2009, Erika Larsen (Bill, Jr.’s daughter), who resides at the estate, created The Brookledge Follies, a “contemporary Vaudeville” variety-and-magic show performed once a month (April-November) in the small theater, which holds just 60 people. Although currently on hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, attendance is by invitation only, but the free show has become one of the hottest tickets in town and is frequently attended by a who’s who of Hollywood like Moby, Sophia Vergara, Joe Manganiello, Ryan Gosling, Jason Alexander, Christina Hendricks, Matthew Gubler, Randy Newman, Paul Reubens and director John Landis, to name a few.

About her childhood, Erika recalls magic’s most famed faces around the Larsen home and laughs, “We did see the best of the best in magic, but I grew up in a bubble. My siblings and I just thought that’s what people did—Make things disappear and carry a deck of cards everywhere.”

The elder Larsens launched Genii magazine in 1952 (its circulation considered a loose affiliation of magicians that later became the AMA’s initial membership), which is the longest, continually published magic magazine in the world.

The Magic Castle was originally constructed as the Rollin B. Lane residence (a wealthy banker and his socialite wife), built among Los Angeles’ orange groves in 1909-10. Externally, the Gothic Renaissance chateau is the mirror image of the Kimberly Crest house and gardens in Redlands, Calif. The Hollywood mansion had fallen into disrepair by the late ’40s (even serving for a time as a boarding house).  In 1962, Milt Larsen approached his brother about reviving their father’s dream of a private club for magicians and, after securing a lease from the owner of Hollywood’s Yamashiro restaurant (next door) with a handshake, began restoring the landmark mansion to its former opulence.

The Magic Castle intertwines illusion and mystery with the history of the Los Angeles area. Much of the ornate décor was rescued from the wrecking ball on construction sites or from Hollywood studio sets before being dumped into the trash (long before the practice of salvaging became chic). John Shrum, former art director for NBC and The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, was also an avid Castle enthusiast. (Look for the famous talk show’s original “cityscape” backdrop in the Owl Bar.)  Many other AMA members, also well positioned within the entertainment industry, have left their personal imprints on the Magic Castle as well.

We don’t know the order of your bucket list and are pretty sure we don’t want to know some of the must-do activities you’ve scheduled — that’s your business — but this evening should already be on it.  This is truly an once in a lifetime chance to see a seldom seen birthplace of our beloved Magic Castle and help the incredible Dai Vernon Foundation.

World-Famous Magic Castle to Reopen on May 21st

Exterior Image of the Magic CastleExcited? Heck yeah we are!

We just received news from the Academy of Magical Arts (“AMA”) that the world-famous home for all who love magic, The Magic Castle, will re-open on May 21st.  It has been closed since the ides of March last year.  We have been in audience withdrawals since.

According to the AMA, the very private club will initially operate at reduced capacity—open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings—welcoming its members and their invited guests for fine dining and entertainment, strictly observing COVID-19 compliant guidelines. To allow members adequate opportunity to access the Magic Castle, guest passes will not be accepted during the initial phase of this reopening.

Magic shows will initially be broadcast in showrooms via recorded video broadcast, with plans to expand to live entertainment options outdoors and an eventual return to live entertainment indoors as quickly as COVID-19 guidelines permit.

The popular Dine & Delight to-go dining program—launched during pandemic restrictions—will continue to operate for the time being on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Orders may be placed at www.MagicCastle.com

Randy Sinnott, Jr., president of the AMA’s Board of Directors, said, “We are thrilled to take the initial step of re-opening our doors and welcoming our members back to their magical clubhouse. As COVID restrictions decrease in the coming weeks and months, the club will continue to carefully and responsibly expand operations to the extent possible and begin to accept guest passes as we bring magic back to the lives of Angelenos.”

During the pandemic, the AMA continued to strive to share its magic with its members and the community, hosting dozens of virtual shows, each attracting hundreds of viewers; offering attractively priced meals from Executive Chef Alex Arrietta thru the Dine & Delight program; hosting outdoor dinners for members; teaching magic classes online; sponsoring virtual lectures and events for members; and lending its parking lot for Magic Asphalt, in-car comedy performances/dining.

About the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.

The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) is a unique non-profit. The AMA’s membership – including the world’s most pre-eminent and celebrated magicians and illusionists – lives by the “Magic First” creed, devoted to the advancement of the art of magic and preserving its history.  Its headquarters and private clubhouse, the Magic Castle, has been an internationally revered gathering place for the magic brotherhood since opening its doors in 1963. Located in historic Hollywood in an elegant, Victorian-era mansion, the Castle is an experience within itself—a remarkable meeting spot that captures a lost era and is timeless in its appeal, having hosted generations of magic enthusiasts from around the globe, as well as show biz elite from Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Johnny Carson, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Alexander (all performing members) to Katy Perry and Johnny Depp. The Magic Castle was founded by writer, actor, magician and entrepreneur Milt Larsen and his late brother, Bill Larsen, Jr.  Visit us online at: www.MagicCastle.com

Magic Castle Honors Armed Services and Families with May 7th Show

The Beautiful Magic CastleWe received this great piece of news from the World Famous Academy of Magical Arts and The Magic Castle.  A very special program for active military, veterans and their families on May 7th.   Lance Burton, The Evansons, Suzanne, and Brandon Scott will appear.  Any one of these acts would be more than enough.  All four makes this a show not to be missed for any reason!  We thank the Magic Castle for keeping us up-to-date on their breaking news and upcoming opportunities.  

In honor of U.S. veterans across the country, the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) and its world-famous clubhouse The Magic Castle is presenting a star-studded, virtual magic show, Saturday, May 7, 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET in honor of members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

Appearing are such globally recognized magicians as Lance BurtonThe EvasonsSuzanne and Brandon Scott. Select Zoom participants will have the opportunity to interact with talent and participate in the magic.

Veterans can register for complimentary tickets at:

http://www.MagicCastle.com/AmericanLegion

 NOTE:  If Zoom registration is full, a live, streaming link will also be available at this site.

Said event organizer, magician Brandon Scott, also serving as Master of Ceremonies, “The mission of the non-profit Academy of Magical Arts is to advance and preserve the art of magic. As part of our community outreach, it is our honor to share the wonder of magic with veterans and others who serve our country and to organizations that serve children who are underprivileged, hospitalized or have special needs … Which meant going virtual during the pandemic, a time when people need a smile most.”

On the Marquee …

Lance Burton (from Kentucky) — A master magician, Burton has appeared on The Tonight Show and numerous TV specials. For The Lance Burton Show in Las Vegas, he won “Best Magician” for 11 years in a row from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and has performed15,000 shows over the past 30 years. The AMA has twice awarded him “Magician of the Year” and a Masters Fellowship “Hall of Fame.”

The Evasons (from Maryland) — One of very few couples in history who have mastered the rare and mysterious art of two-person telepathy, they have appeared in more than 40 countries and on such hit TV shows as Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Masters of Illusion and The World’s Greatest Magic. In their live, interactive, online display of Virtual Telepathy and Remote Viewing, The Evasons appear to reach through the screen and seize your thoughts.

Suzanne (from Minnesota) — You may have seen Suzanne on Penn & Teller Fool Us with an engaging style that makes the audience an essential participant in her performance that other magicians call “flawless” and “amazing.” She is a favorite at Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle and has been awarded “Close Up Magician of the Year” by the AMA.

Brandon Scott (from California) — Scott comes from a family of American Veterans and received two first-place medals as winner of the American Legion Oratory Contest on the American Constitution. He has appeared in numerous television shows, films and commercials, as well as live performances at such places as Caesars Palace-Las Vegas, The Hollywood Bowl, Disneyland and in Milt Larsen’s It’s Magic. He is a headliner magician at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and has delighted corporate executives, international nobility, prominent political figures and some of the world’s most famous movie stars.

[Talent subject to change.]

About the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.

The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) is a unique non-profit. The AMA’s membership—including the world’s most pre-eminent and celebrated magicians and illusionists—lives by the “Magic First” creed, devoted to the advancement of the art of magic and preserving its history.  Its headquarters and private clubhouse, the Magic Castle, has been an internationally revered gathering place for the magic brotherhood since opening its doors in 1963.  Located in historic Hollywood in an elegant, Victorian-era mansion, the Castle is an experience within itself—a remarkable meeting spot that captures a lost era and is timeless in its appeal, having hosted generations of magic enthusiasts from around the globe, as well as show biz elite from Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Johnny Carson, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Alexander (all performing members) to Katy Perry and Johnny Depp. The Magic Castle was founded by writer, actor, magician and entrepreneur Milt Larsen and his late brother, Bill Larsen, Jr.  Visit us online at: www.MagicCastle.com.

 

WILD ABOUT HARRY: Houdini planning a new film in 1925?

We were searching John Cox’ wonderful website Wild About Harry and found a very interesting article about Houdini’s possible return to film making in 1925 – a year before his untimely passing.

Mr. Cox points out that the nascent film was to be based on Miracle Mongers and their Methods.   We consider that book to be a must read for every fan of Houdini and the history of Spiritualism.  Fortunately it is no available in the public domain and thus accessible to fans gratis.

We would have paid big money to see the film.

Thank you to Mr. Cox for finding this important piece of history and sharing it with us Houdini fans.

Please check out his full article at Wild About Harry here.

As we know, Houdini stepped away from movie making after he completed The Man From Beyond and Haldane of the Secret Service in 1921. So the idea he’d consider a return in 1925 is pretty interesting. It’s also interesting to see the name of Arthur B. Reeve, who co-wrote The Master Mystery and Houdini’s Hollywood films.In 1923 Houdini told the L.A. Times he planned to adapt his book Miracle Mongers and Their Methods into an “out-and-out stunt picture” following his Keith’s vaudeville tour. This item appeared the Monday after he completed that tour. So could this signal the start of that process?

Source: WILD ABOUT HARRY: Houdini planning a new film in 1925?

Houdini Searches on Google

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniWe love the world’s best known magician, Houdini.

We also take great pride in our programming abilities and yet we were stumped yesterday trying to load an active graph from Google documenting the past and present searches for Houdini since 2010. We couldn’t go back further; like to 1920 and figured out that we were limited by the reality that Google did not exist in the Roaring Twenties.

So while we don’t have the live data stream for Houdini searches on InsideMagic.com yet, we can report that the term Houdini continues to be searched daily with peaks in the number of searches on special days and weeks around Halloween and the date of his death in 1926.

Why were we trying to construct this real-time search presentation?

First because we thought it was a cool tool to put on our website. We’re always looking to spice up our space.

Second, because we search for news or articles about Houdini daily. Sometimes the searches come back related to a rapper that used Houdini in his name. Sometimes it comes back with a wine bottle opener. Sometimes it comes back with the great Houdini Magic Shop from Disneyland or Las Vegas. But usually there is at least one hit for Houdini, the world-famous magician and escape artist par excellence.

It is amazing that his name, story and images still register on the Google Search metrics.

What a testament to his self-promotion, his place in modern history and his ability to entrance modern audiences even without being present (assuming you disregard claims of connections during seances).

Magicians today still make reference to Houdini in their acts; often comparing themselves to the master performer. The modern audiences have never seen Houdini (other than the Tony Curtis film, perhaps) but the reference still resonates with them.

We tried to think of other performers that have that kind of staying power. In the 1920s the American and European theaters were jammed full of performers and on a typical evening’s bill, there would be a star or top act. Yet, we are at a loss to name any of them unless they later had a career in a more permanent medium like film or radio.

Houdini is what got us heavily into magic and we assume his popularity is having the same effect on a new generation of magicians and escape artists.

What a wonderful art we have.

By the way, if we are ever in doubt about Houdini’s work or history, we refer to the source that knows all, Wild About Houdini, run by John Cox. If you are a Houdini fan, it needs to be your first stop daily for the latest findings and exploration about this incredible legend.

We will continue to work with our crack programming team to get real time search stats on InsideMagic.com but until then, we’ll just report the highlights we find through our searching or from Mr. Cox’ website.

Unfortunate Article on Phantom of the Card Table

Inside Magic's Famous BunnyWe are loathe to ever write anything negative on the pages of InsideMagic.com.

We do not provide reviews of new effects if the review would be less than at least four stars.  We just don’t review tricks we have found to be unsatisfactory.  We don’t promote articles or videos that we believe expose or denigrate our art.  We have held this position since our start in the mid-1990s.

The reason behind this philosophy is based on the fact that as a whole, magicians are good people and their work represents a source of income and a source of pride.  We would be the last organization to interfere with those sources of positivity.

And so, why are we writing this post about the two-part series published in Genii last month and this?

The series was written by Jamy Ian Swiss on the momentous night in Brooklyn when the Phantom of the Card Table, Walter Scott performed seemingly impossible feats of card dealing whilst wearing a blindfold.

The event has been captured in books and has gone down in magic lore.  Most recently, a copy of Cardini’s version of the manuscript has been published by Conjuring Arts with notes, a preface and forward.  It is a fine production and we have been pouring over it since our purchase on the first day it was available.  Please take the time to read about the making of the new book, Phantom of the Card Table, Critical Edition.

Mr. Swiss concedes the publication itself offers the magic community something of value and is well produced.  In doing so, however, he attacks several magicians, magic historians and dealers.

We don’t mind honest criticism and we have no puppy in this battle.  But we were distraught at the vitriol used in the attacks. He questions the motivations and credentials of contributors to the effort in harsh terms and provides his “considered opinion that Joe Crist, Walter Scott and Eddie McGuire all had a lot in common.  All three were confirmed bull___t artists.”

We think the Phantom / Walter Scott story is fascinating and view the new book as a major step-forward in the study of our great art’s history.  It is just a shame that a two-issue article on the matter could not be presented on a higher, non ad-hominem, level.

There are some in our art that we like and some we like more or less.  We see no need in attacking those we like less, especially publicly.  We also realize that this post does exactly what we are against.  That explains our reluctance to write it and even greater reluctance to post it.  We mean no ill-will to Mr. Swiss or Genii.  We are devoted fans of both.  Our complaint is only with this two-part article on a subject in which we are so interested.

Meir Yedid’s Business Card Penetration Magic

Image of Meir Yedid's Business Card Penetration FrameWe received our Business Card Penetration Frame today from Meir Yedid Magic.

The premise is well known by magicians and likely performed early in their careers.

A frame is shown with a piece of clear plastic within its four corners. A card is inserted on each side of the frame so that if you looked at the props it appear as a sandwich with card, the clear plastic, and another card.

A threatening sharp stick is shown and without any hesitation, pushed through the first card, the clear plastic sheet and out through the card on the other side. The threatening stake is removed the same way it goes in or pulled through on the other side. You can show spectators that there is in fact a hole through both cards and the plastic sheet. The cards are removed from each side and now the hole is gone. The plastic sheet is intact, nary a hole to be seen. If needed, the frame can be inspected by audience members.

That’s the plot of the classic Penetration Frame and it remains the same with the Business Card Penetration Frame.

The difference is the appearance of the frame. It is smaller in dimensions than Penetration Frames we have used in the past. It works perfectly with business cards.  Playing cards would cover most of the plastic sheet, diminishing the effect. But the frame is also different in appearance from your old Penetration Frame.  It sports a metallic look, a gold metallic appearance.

It is not real gold – we checked with one of the local gold and silver merchants that occupy our building on the street-level.  He previously bought one of our fillings so he knows his stuff.  He said it is not real gold. That explains the very reasonable cost for the effect.

So the question is why would we want to buy another Penetration Frame?

We admit – and have done so under oath in one infamous family law proceeding – that we buy duplicates of tricks we own and purchase entire genres of effects that we never perform in our act. We are almost exclusively a card magician and take pride (because it would not be given to us otherwise) in never using gimmicked cards. That limits the number of tricks we can justifiably buy for tax and rational reasons.

We are usually restricted to bricks of Bee Jumbo Index decks and books on card magic written by John Bannon, Juan Tamariz, John Luka and the Stars of Magic series. So why have we purchased more gimmicked coins than we could ever need?  Considering we don’t even do Nickels to Dimes anymore or Scotch and Soda, that’s a question psychologists have found puzzling and others who care about bank balances, infuriating.

But this effect is different and will likely join our regular routine – the same routine, word-for-word, since 1974 – because it looks pretty, gets our business card and the spectator’s business card into play as souvenirs, and requires no difficult moves. If you have been doing magic for more than a decade, you know the moves. Now you need something that looks beautiful with which to perform those moves.

In our Twitter feed, @insidemagic, we have been repeatedly referencing Meir Yedid’s weekly mailing. If you are not a subscriber, you should be. He has new magic that won’t be found in other stores. Many are gems like the Business Card Penetration Frame. Along with the effects offered are great write-ups and suggestions for handling that you will not find elsewhere.

Some considerations: Even though the frame is not really gold, it looks like gold. But under close inspection there are some minor flaws in the coating – at least on the one we received. The flaws will be invisible to even close-up audiences but we thought we would note it. The trick itself works well and feels very durable. Despite being an effect most magicians know and have seen, in all of our time at the Magic Castle’s amateur rooms, we have not seen it performed. For a lay audience, this will come across as a unique effect. Finally, the wooden stake that comes with the frame is sharp. Be careful reaching into the envelope containing the frame or at least don’t be as grabby and careless as we can be.  Although the blood stain we caused at the tip of the stake gives it a certain something.

Even with the minor finishing flaws, we give the trick a Five out of Five for construction, inspiration and real-world use. Plus, the price cannot be beat.

Remember that Inside Magic accepts no payment for our reviews. If we review a trick, it is because we bought it and like it. If we bought it and didn’t like it, we won’t review it. There is enough negativity in the world and we’d like our Art to be a safe zone for innovators and businesses.

Beyond Snake Oil – Magicians and Physicians

Image of Magician Performing a TrickClose-up Magician and Lecturer in Medical Ethics and Law, Daniel Sokol’s article “Medicine as Performance: What Can Magicians Teach Doctors?” got us thinking — a rare experience for us during these quarantine days.

We normally read the prestigious Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine for the pictures but the title of this article from 2008 stood out.

Our brain is hardwired to immediately focus on certain key words, such a “Magic,” “Magician(s),” “Card Tricks,” and “Magic Magicians doing Card Tricks.”  We know there are surgeries and/or medical therapies that would release us from this focus anomaly but we have found it a pleasant enough brain defect and so we choose to live with it.  We are very thankful that those are the words to which we are immediately attracted and not something more untoward or socially unacceptable.

We have a friend who focuses like a laser on the word “______,” and the phrase “_____ on ______, _____.”  Our friend’s life is not relaxing and pleasant like ours and reading just about anything posted on the worldwide web becomes a struggle for attention.  We haven’t identified the actual words or phrase here in an effort to retain our family-friendly certification.  But a good cryptographer — good meaning “talented in his or her field of cryptology” and not in a moral sense — could decipher the blank lines above to figure it out.

But back to the Royal Society of Medicine’s article’s point, magicians can and do intentionally distract their audience to accomplish what appears to be magic.

The article references Darwin Ortiz advice on the best practices for magicians, “Always say the same thing at the same point in each trick you do.”  So when advising patients on diagnosis and treatment, there would likely be different non-verbal signs given by the physician.

The article is fascinating and well worth your review.

You can read Mr. Sokol’s article here: Sokol D. K. (2008). Medicine as performance: what can magicians teach doctors? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101(9), 443–446. https://doi.org/10.1258/jrsm.2008.080133

Abbott’s Magic Get-Together is On – with Restrictions

Lance Burton the True Master Magician Performs in Happier TimesMaster Magician Lance Burton will be joined by the incredible Mac King, Jeff Hobson and Kevin James at this year’s Abbott’s Magic Get-Together.

Abbott’s owner, Greg Bordner, announced the good news in today’s Sturgis Journal.

But given the uncertainties in this time of a pandemic, nothing is certain.

“Probably the best quote you can put in the paper is, ‘we’re proceeding cautiously,’” Mr. Bordner said. “That’s how we’re approaching this and we’ll stay optimistic that we can go ahead and have the Get-Together this year.”

A big feature of the Get-Together are the big shows in the Colon High School gym but due to health and safety concerns, the seats available will be half of what they were in pre-pandemic times.

“It’s a different show every night, of course, but it’s the same people in the audience every night,” he said. “Where we used to sell tickets to any, some or all of the four different shows, this year we’re selling the tickets in four-night (packages).”

The price for the four nights is $300.  Considering the line-up, this looks to be a real deal.

“The shows will be of serious quality and they always have been, but nobody is working right now, so we have a great lineup of headline magicians that are dying to perform,” Mr. Bordner said.

Check out the full line-up at the Get-Together site here.