Inside Magic News for September 9, 2004

 

 

Chris Cochrane with Dean Gunnarson, Doc Eason and Rebecka

Chris Cochrane in Serious Condition Following Car Accident.  Chris Cochrane, the prime mover and chief organizers of the very successful Houdini Days Festival, was involved in a single car accident on Sunday, September 6th.  Mr. Cochrane was returning from the airport when he was involved in a single vehicle rollover. He was airlifted to nearby Theda Care Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, where he was placed into a drug-induced coma. 

 

According to the local Appleton paper, he was listed in serious condition after arrival.  Doc Eason reports that Mr. Cochrane‘s right knee was shattered, his left leg was broken above the knee cap, and he received injury to his right shoulder.  Despite the incredible pain, Mr. Eason has heard Mr. Cochrane is in good spirits.  He is scheduled for additional surgery today (Thursday).    

 

Read On . . .

 

Mr. Cochrane has worked tirelessly in promoting, planning and executing the Houdini Days event.  He fought the mistaken, but widely held, belief that the Houdini Days’ celebration was related to the Appleton Historical Museum‘s offensive exposure of Metamorphosis.  Apparently, his efforts were successful.  The Houdini Days event was well-attended and received outstanding reviews. 

 

Our prayers are with Mr. Cochrane and his family.


 

 

Chris Cochrane with Dean Gunnarson, Doc Eason and Rebecka

Chris Cochrane in Serious Condition Following Car Accident.  Chris Cochrane, the prime mover and chief organizers of the very successful Houdini Days Festival, was involved in a single car accident on Sunday, September 6th.  Mr. Cochrane was returning from the airport when he was involved in a single vehicle rollover. He was airlifted to nearby Theda Care Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, where he was placed into a drug-induced coma. 

 

According to the local Appleton paper, he was listed in serious condition after arrival.  Doc Eason reports that Mr. Cochrane‘s right knee was shattered, his left leg was broken above the knee cap, and he received injury to his right shoulder.  Despite the incredible pain, Mr. Eason has heard Mr. Cochrane is in good spirits.  He is scheduled for additional surgery today (Thursday).    

 

Read On . . .

 

Mr. Cochrane has worked tirelessly in promoting, planning and executing the Houdini Days event.  He fought the mistaken, but widely held, belief that the Houdini Days’ celebration was related to the Appleton Historical Museum‘s offensive exposure of Metamorphosis.  Apparently, his efforts were successful.  The Houdini Days event was well-attended and received outstanding reviews. 

 

Our prayers are with Mr. Cochrane and his family.

 

 

 

Dean Gunnarson Fighting to Escape

Dean Gunnarson Performs a Real Escape.  This article is more editorial than reporting but who cares, I’m the editor too. Mr. Gunnarson performed a death-defying Water Tank escape at the Houdini Days Celebration in Appleton, Wisconsin this weekend.  In addition to performing, he was also the Masters of Ceremony for the evening’s show. 

 

Here’s the editorial:  Several years ago, Doug Henning performed the Chinese Water Torture Cell on live television. (Interestingly, it was the very same Water Torture Cell used by Mr. Gunnarson in his spectacular escape this weekend). Even though he had complete confidence in his ability, his fitness and the cell’s construction, he admitted he was very nervous about the escape.  No matter how he confident he was, no matter how well-constructed the prop, it was still “a whole lot of water and a limited amount of air.”  I know that David Copperfield also approached his underwater escape with the same reasoned trepidation. 

 

In recent years, the number of “daring escapes” has increased but the daring part has decreased dramatically.  At a recent convention, I watched a packing box escape performed by a magician best known for his stage, non-escape work.  He was handcuffed and locked in the packing box (as opposed to being chained to the inside of the box and having the lid nailed shut).  The box was lowered into the shallow creek and as we watched, something went wrong (“terribly wrong, said the announcer”) and the box dropped from its connections and crashed into the shallow water — almost going beneath the surface. 

 

Getting the Torture Cell Ready

The magician emerged not from the box but from a location above and far from the creek.  Despite the fact that the box barely touched the water — the magician was soaked from head to toe.  Perhaps that was the trick ? he became wet even though the box did not fully submerge. 

 

It seems to me that this is not really an escape.  This is a vanish and appearance. And while the magic theorists say escapes, vanishes, and appearances constitute separate magical effects; they are not the same. 

 

As a magician, it is difficult to imagine how the lay audience sees this effect.  Do they view all escapes as clever tricks featuring the disappearance and reappearance of the escape artist?  Do they assume the escape artist is merely pretending to get into the packing box or the Water Torture Cell? 

 

I admit that escape artists use deception to accomplish their work but the good ones, like Mr. Gunnarson and Houdini (how’s that for good company?), at least engage themselves in the situation that the audience sees. 

 

Mr. Henning was actually lowered into the Torture Cell, Mr. Gunnarson was actually submerged in water and required to escape before his lungs burst.  Houdini was actually inside a milk can when a final bucket of water was poured over him to ensure no pockets of air existed between his skull and securely padlocked top. 

 

Lance Burton performed an escape from a roller coaster in one of his early specials.  He really was locked to the coaster’s rails and the coaster really did rush towards him.  Although, he had rehearsed the effect and was confident in his ability and equipment, he was nearly killed because of a mix-up in communication with his assistants.  After narrowly jumping clear of the coaster, he can be heard to say, “that was stupid.”  Ironically, most viewers of the escape believed his last minute dive to safety was planned. 

 

Houdini wrote, “No one wants to see someone die, but they want to be there when it happens.”  Mr. Gunnarson and the other great escape artists are being short-changed when magicians venture into their arena and perform magic tricks rather than true escapes. Their audiences are left to believe that all of the work and physical training necessary to accomplish the promised feat is unnecessary; that it is all just another “magician’s trick.”  That’s a real shame.

 

 

Bond & Houdini

Godfather of MI5 revealed as William Melville, master of disguise and friend of Houdini. One of the great espionage mysteries has finally been solved – the identity of the real-life inspiration behind M, James Bond‘s fictional boss. William Melville was a master of disguise, an ex-police officer and essential to the British counter-espionage during the First World War. Melville‘s exploits, which included enlisting the skills of Harry Houdini to train his operatives, went on to inspire James Bond‘s creator, Ian Fleming, who worked for British Intelligence during the Second World War.

 

 

The Rockford Register Star features 12 year old magician Ryan Miller.  His answers to their questions on likes, dislikes and interests are great.  His favorite magicians are: “Penn & Teller, Lance Burton and David Blaine.”  His best tricks are: “Needle through Balloon and Multiplying Billiard Balls.”  What’s the hardest thing about putting on a magic show: “Sometimes you get hecklers who think they know how to do every trick. Sometimes I get pretty mad with them and pick on them.” Most embarrassing moment: “At the very end of a magic show a dove pooped on my shoe.”

 

It sounds like Mr. Miller is well on his way to becoming a professional magician.  I too hated it when I would get dove poop on my shoes during a show; especially since I didn’t use doves in my act.  In fact, it was very bothersome because it would happen during my close-up, table-hopping act. 

 

If you would like to read the full listing of Mr. Miller‘s likes and dislikes, check out the Rockford Register here.

 

 

6’6″ of Magician

Penn Teller is So Tall That . . .  Only in America could you have the niche marketing sufficient to produce a magazine like TALL.  The new, beautifully designed national publication is on the verge of its fourth edition and Mr. Teller is the cover model.  The 6’6″ magician adds class to what the editor calls the “lifestyle resource for a heightened culture.”  The October issue features stories of particular interest to the tall men and women such as cruise ships that aren’t claustrophobic and the dangers of Marfan syndrome.

 

In a related story, Splochy ? The Magazine for Middle-Aged Irish Guys, has me on the cover.  There is a nice interview with me about hiding one’s bright red nose after a long weekend and how to cash third and fourth party checks at liquor stores without proper ID.  There is an expose on carrot cake and “The Seven Warning Signs of Slouching.”  The editors picked me because of my essay published in last month’s edition, “Mid-Life Crisis ? Why Bother?”  The September issue should be on your news stands at the beginning of next year. 

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