Category: Magic Castle News

The McBrides and Magic and Mystery

Last night, the place to be was The Magic Castle at the corner of Franklin and Orange in Hollywood, California.  We squeaked in (we are on the waiting list for a hip replacement or a good oiling) just before they closed the parking lot.   Phew, we said to no one.

We were dressed in our finest and even polished one of our two shoes (the right – and we always walk with it going first) and wore a tie inherited from our late uncle.  Like all families, we had to fight to recover the tie he promised us.  Our aunt said he never intended us to have it.  Our cousins claimed they were entitled to it.  The funeral director said we couldn’t open the casket without a court order.  But we have it – most of it – and we were wearing it with the pride of a person who knows how to wear a snap on tie.

Steve Valentine is more than a great magician, he is also a world-famous actor and great guy.  When his name is on the bill, there are going to be crowds.  Well, last night, his name was on the bill and there were crowds.  QED.

Mr. Valentine was hosting a special Castle Perk for members on Street Magic in the beautifully appointed Peller Theatre.  Unfortunately, the Peller Theatre seats around 40 guests and there were far more than that looking to learn the ins and outs of performing on boulevards and byways.

We stood solemnly by the door, gazing in with hope and expectation but to no avail.  We couldn’t hear a thing.  We saw mouths moving and props being displayed but without the language track, the visual was insufficient for us.  Dejectedly, we gathered our street performing props and funny hat, and walked away.

After a wonderful meal in the dining room, we were able to see Jeff McBride and Abigail Spinner-McBride in the Palace of Mystery.  What a treat.  Because of our late arrival and dubious hygiene, we were given a choice seat with lots of room near the front.  We have seen Mr. McBride several times and were once again delighted by his creativity and skill.  He is a man of many talents and masks.  He uses both resources to make for a fantastic show.

We have never seen Ms. Spinner-McBride perform and were equally delighted to see her work.  She has a wonderful sense of poise and grace on stage.  Her performance of Max Maven’s Brainwave was beautifully done.

The McBrides will be at The Magic Castle through Sunday as part of the Magic and Mystery School Week.  If you haven’t seen their show or haven’t seen it in a while, make plans to get there.

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Woody Allen Disgruntled with Chicken at Magic Castle

The National Enquirer spills the fava beans with a story about Woody Allen being disgruntled at The Magic Castle.

We have always said that if some cannot be gruntled at the Magic Castle, there is no place they will not be disgruntled.  This just proves our point.

According to The Enquirer’s Mike Walker, Mr. Allen ordered a “plain broiled chicken” for his entrée.  Unfortunately, the chef did not serve him just a plain piece of poultry but provided a portion with a “special sauce.”

According to Mr. Walker’s sources, Mr. Allen became “really upset.  All he’d wanted was plain broiled chicken, so he barely touched the meal.”

He complained about it later when a strolling magician asked how he was enjoying the evening.  “So far, nobody’s made my hunger disappear!”

See what he did there?  Hunger, disappear, magic trick, dinner disgruntlement.

Mr. Allen participated in a trick where the magician caused his $100.00 bill to vanish.   He couldn’t let go of his chicken issues, though.

He apparently rolled his eyes and commented “I’ll be happy if it reappears as a plain broiled chicken!’”

Oh, dear.  He must be thinking of that old U.F. Grant parlor trick, Bill to Chicken Supreme.  We used to perform it back in the late 1960s and early 1970s before the animal rights folks became so insistent.  It was a great trick and depended on a pull to hook onto the chicken’s feet with a little Velcro harness that could be difficult to work.

Jimmy King later came out with a much more effective harness system for the chicken vanish but by then audiences had come to disapprove of tricks involving freshly cooked birds.

It’s Magic! Coming to Sacramento

When we visit the Magic Castle, we notice the great posters advertising It’s Magic! through the years.  They line the Parlor of Prestidigitation boasting amazing performers.

Imagine our excitement — unless you have other things you wish to imagine — to read that It’s Magic! is alive and has announced its dates for the Harris Center for the Arts in the Sacramento area.

We read this press release and pass it along for all of our loyal reader(s).

It’s Magic! is in its 59th year; each season presenting the world’s top magic and variety performers in a production designed for the entire family. Stars from all corners of the globe including Las Vegas, Europe, Asia and Hollywood’s Magic Castle dazzle audiences with their amazing acts. The Los Angeles Times calls It’s Magic! “…a must for magic buffs of all ages!”

It’s Magic! has two performances on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2 pm and 6 pm. Tickets are priced at $21-$34; Premium $45. Tickets are available online at www.harriscenter.net or from the Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.

This live stage show is unique in that it features many of the top professional magicians worldwide, with each act carefully selected to represent the variety of the art of magic. Many of these performers are internationally recognized award-winners, direct from exotic showrooms around the world as well as Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle. Parents who came to see It’s Magic! as youngsters are now bringing their children and grand­children to see this amazing line-up of famous magicians.

The tradition of an all-star magic show started in 1956 when two young entrepreneurs, Milt Larsen and Oliver Berliner, produced a show called Hocus Pocus ’56 at the magnificent (now demolished) Carthay Circle Theater in West Los Angeles. The following year, the show was renamed It’s Magic! and moved to the 1300 seat Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles’ swank Hancock Park area.

At first, the shows played for a very limited time only. However, as the number of fans grew, the number of performances was expanded. The success of It’s Magic! proved there was a genuine interest in the ancient art form of magic. This, in turn, gave Larsen the idea of forming a full-time private club for magicians and magic enthusiasts. Thus was born the Magic Castle, which opened its doors in 1963. Many credit this show as the spark that rekindled the resurgence of the art of magic in America.

In 1965 Milt produced It’s Magic! as a solo venture with his brother Bill as Associate Producer. It’s Magic! then moved to the Variety Arts Theater in downtown Los Angeles in 1977 and played annually until the mid­eighties. Since its inception, Southern California audiences were treated to such legendary magicians as Harry Blackstone (senior and junior), John Calvert, Senor Wences, Richiardi, Chang, Mark Wilson, Frakson, Tenkai and Dai Vernon. The show also provided the springboard for newcomers like Lance Burton, Mark Kalin, Shimada, The Pendragons and Harry Anderson, all of whom have since become stars.

This year’s lineup features magicians Danny Cole, who was named the Rising Star of Magic by World Magic Awards (1999), Mystina, a British magician who incorporates dancing and gymnatics in her breathtaking illusions, and Tom Ogden, a family friendly magician who has performed for celebrities and politicians from Johnny Depp to President Ronald Reagan. Also featured are Alex Ramon, the first magician to grace The Greatest Show on Earth Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Zing Zang Zoom, juggling extraordinaire Dan Raspyni, and more – each carefully selected to show the many nuances and artfulness of magic.

 

Brian Gillis, Magic Castle and Honor

The obscure philosopher and scion of the Hardy magic family, Thomas “Big Tom” Hardy, wrote, “we take our honor where we find it.”

We never understood what he meant by that and think it may have been used in the closing argument in one of the many trespassing prosecutions he faced over his life.  But, it resonated with us Friday as we ventured back into the Magic Castle after too long a time away.

Hollywood was inflamed with Oscar preparations.  The streets were crowded with famous, nearly famous and gawkers walking at a virtually identical pace with the vehicular traffic coursing along Sunset and Hollywood boulevards.   No one was moving quickly but all seemed to be enjoying their journeys.

We have been away from the Castle for about three weeks for unimportant reasons – none of which have to do with anything you may have read on certain Chinese-language blogs published out of Hong Kong.  Plus, if you look carefully at the video those blogs tout, you can see we were at least an unwilling participant in what may or may not have been an unfortunate turn of events, at worst, or a miscommunication with fellow travelers stuck in a chilly airport terminal facing a lengthy flight delay.  We should note that the goat was not ours but was part of the Chinese New Year’s celebration and was certainly well-behaved until the 11:02 mark of the video when all heck broke loose.

Regardless, that is, as the investigating officer said ironically, behind us.

We went back to the Castle Friday night.  Did we say that already?

It was so nice to see old friends and even meet some new people with whom we hope to establish friendships.  Dinner was wonderful as always and the entertainment offerings were befitting a star-studded awards weekend.  Bruce Gold was in the Palace of Mystery, Derek Hughes was in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and Pop Haydn was working the Close-Up Gallery like the boss he is.

In between shows, we ventured downstairs to the amateur rooms and performed a couple of sets.  We had two new effects on which we have been working.  You may be different but we find that no matter how much we rehearse – and we do rehearse a lot – we really have no feel for the pacing of the effect until we actually perform for real people.  By our third set, we had some comfort with the tricks, their presentation and the swelling seemed to abate.

We were getting ready to perform another set – undeterred by the fact that we did not have an audience, not a soul – when who should enter the room but Brian Gillis.  We find it hard to shake the star-struck wonder when we meet celebrities or heroes.  For instance, we are still unable to speak in coherent sentences when we talk with Pop Haydn or Mark Wilson.

Mr. Gillis asked if we were going to do a set and we may have nodded and giggled and twirled our hair (which at our advanced age is not only embarrassing but also tough to do).  He noted that there was not an audience for whom to perform.  We likely nodded again.  At some point, we volunteered to get him an audience.  He said he did not want to impose.  He offered to wait until after we performed.  We declined his generous offer and set about inviting folks downstairs to watch Mr. Gillis.

Within minutes the room was packed.  We do not credit our audience-wrangling skills – the crowd came because we told everyone we met that Brian Gillis would be performing shortly.

Mr. Gillis was on and on fire.  He had people cussing with disbelief at his ability to make the impossible happen so naturally, so easily.  His signed bill to a volunteer-selected sugar packet evoked screams from the packed room.  It was an honor to be in the same room with such an amazing performer.

We were then ready to start our set but saw Handsome Jack enter the room.  He asked if we were going to perform and we again deferred to the better magician and said we would love to watch – which, ironically, was precisely what we intended to say in the Hong Kong airport video.  Mr. Lovick performed a bit of the routine he will do this week in the Close-Up Gallery at the Castle.  It was fantastic.  The audience loved it and we were genuinely fooled by his work.  He, like Mr. Gillis, works so smoothly and so naturally.

Again, it was an honor to be able to tell our grandchildren – one day – that we performed after such amazing magicians.  We finally did our last set of the night and the crowds were pretty well dissipated.  That was okay by us.  We weren’t anxious to provide such a stark contrast between our plebeian skills and those of the two previous masters.  We felt no shame in our lesser abilities but basked in the honor they unknowingly bestowed on a true fan of great magic.

We caught Pop Haydn’s final show of the night and were again in awe of how well magic can be presented.  He is the complete package.  A master of difficult sleights, audiences and entertaining performance.  There is much to be learned and we feel blessed that we are always ready to learn.  We may be star-struck but at least we are always open to the lessons.

School for Scoundrels Class this Weekend

This weekend, we will be at the feet of the masters, Pop Haydn, Bob Sheets and Chef Anton together teaching the ways of the Scoundrel at The Magic Castle here in Hollywood.  It is a two-day class in the essentials of scoundreling with special attention paid to Three-Card Monte, The Shell Game and Fast and Loose.

The esteemed professors note that the course is “perfect for the historian, steampunker, gambler, lawyer or police officer as well as the magician, this course gives you the inside information.”  We are at least two or three of those types of people so the course should be a perfect fit.

We understand there were only 20 seats available and they may have already been sold out by the time this article posts.

We will report back on what we have learned both in the classroom and in any wayward attempts to scoundrel on the mean streets of Hollywood or Beverly Hills.

We are thinking of getting a specially made cardboard box on which to perform our soon to be acquired Three-Card Monte skills just outside the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset.

We could make it look like it was a shipping container for Louis Vuitton handbags or Christian Louboutin shoes so it would not arouse suspicion amongst the throngs we expect will encircle us with cash money in their hands and dreams of big winnings in their hearts.

Check out the School for Scoundrels site for more information and peruse their great offerings here.

Do Magicians Need Manicures?

We got our first manicure ever the other day.  It will be our last – at least our last voluntarily received.

It was inevitable, we presume.  We were in Hollywood, performing on the weekends in the amateur rooms at The Magic Castle and all the other guys had manicures and, well, we just gave into it.

We have been performing magic since we were seven and have tried to take good care of our hands and fingernails ever since we started working as a demonstrator at Paul Diamonds Magic and Fun Wagon at the Palm Beach Mall.  Barry Gibbs – our mentor and boss – explained the need to have clean hands and neat fingernails.  He never mentioned getting a manicure.

When big-time magicians would tour through our local clubs, we noticed that some of them would have shiny fingernails but assumed it was a Hollywood or New York City thing.  We did not recall seeing any of the Chicago pros with shiny, smooth fingernails.  Maybe they had them and we just did not notice.

But then we hit Hollywood.  Everyone had manicures.

In fact, even our taxi driver from the airport to our beautiful studio apartment next to the store that bakes dog food on Santa Monica Boulevard had shiny nails.

He was otherwise a gruff looking man with a very short fuse when it came to people driving slower, faster or different than he would like.  Nevertheless, if you were to examine only his nails, you would assume he was a member of a royal family.  We were going to ask him about his decision to get a manicure but he was very focused on driving very quickly and using his well-maintained middle finger to express his constant displeasure with our fellow travelers.

We debated taking the plunge.  What if someone saw us going into one of the hundreds of “manicure parlors” that line the boulevards crisscrossing Hollywood?  Fortunately, we don’t know many people out here yet and so the chances were low that we would be spotted.  Perhaps, even if we were spotted, the spotter would not care.  Maybe manicures are okay in this realm.

We tried a couple of sample runs; walking in to parlors with their specialized chairs and tables and tools with what must have appeared to be an awkward sense of nonchalance.  On the other hand, maybe we just looked addled, confused or weird.

Several times the kind Asian women attempted to get us seated to begin the process right away.  Several times we pulled away like a weirdo possessed by an infantile fear of having his nails cut.

We wanted to discuss the topic with friends in a safe environment.  One night, after performing a couple of sets in Hat & Hare room at The Magic Castle, we asked some of the other performers if they got manicures.  It took us a while to get to the point and we may have actually stammered.

We must have sounded self-conscious and/or creepy because we received no response.  The conversation broke shortly after we asked the question.  It was likely our paranoia but it seemed like they were avoiding having eye-contact with us for the rest of the night.

We read up on how to give oneself a manicure and immediately deleted our search history after determining that it was a specialty we did not possess.  We needed a pro.  We needed a non-judgmental pro who could keep secrets.

We found just such a pro just a few blocks from our apartment.  Hong Kong Nails and Spa was open until 11:00 pm and staffed with very friendly, caring people who did not view us as abnormal or deviant.  Or maybe they did but they did not let on.

Lisa – not her real name – was the manager on duty and ushered us into the big, elevated and comfortable chair.  She did not even ask why we were there.  It was as if she just knew.  Of course, there are probably few non-manicure related reasons a person walks into a nail parlor at 9:00 pm so maybe she did not need to have the deductive reasoning skills of Sherlock Holmes.

We say that “Lisa” was not her real name because it was not.  It was the name she gave us but said it was her “American” name.  Her real name was too difficult for most customers and so she adopted “Lisa” after seeing the Simpson’s cartoon show.  We told her our real name.  We were coming to terms with our trust issues in her caring hands and warm, soapy water.

Apparently, we have been blithely ignorant of just how repulsive cuticles can be.  We had no idea.  Lisa explained that part of the reason people come for manicures is to have their cuticles removed or pushed back.  The cuticles keep growing back and trained professionals like Lisa are on the front lines, cutting and pushing against their incessant creeping.

Who knew?

Even now that we know about cuticles, we still have a hard time seeing cuticles on others.  One’s observation skills must develop in this area.  Lisa could spot our cuticles from the moment we walked into the parlor.  Hers must be a tortured life: seeing so many cuticles every day.  If they are truly as disgusting as she described, we have no idea how she could ever eat from a fast-food counter.

We watched as she applied a special gel to the base of our fingernails and then used a cutting implement from the late 14th Century to carve away more than 50 years of cuticle growth.  We expected to feel lighter and more mobile after the process but the difference was not immediately evident.

The good news was there very little in the way of blood.  We bleed easily and once we start, we do not stop for hours.  It is not an attractive trait and seems to have very little benefit to us or our progeny in an evolutionary sense.

Lisa asked if we wanted to have clear polish put on our fingernails now that they were free of the unsightly (but to us, practically invisible) cuticles and all ridges were buffed away.

We thought about it but because we are so insecure in our masculinity and have a lot issues, we demurred.  We immediately regretted declining the offer and tried to explain our “issues” to Lisa but surprisingly, it was not that big a deal to her.  She was a total pro or she didn’t care.

We tried out our new fingers at the Castle last weekend.  We discerned no improvement in our audiences’ enjoyment or appreciation for our practiced efforts.  None.  We thought about drawing attention to the manicure by saying things about cuticles and ridges but could not work those words into our multi-reveal card routine.  We even intentionally rocked our hands in the spotlight to pick up the maximum glint and sparkle but to no avail.

Perhaps having a manicure is unnecessary to succeed at performing magic.  Perhaps it is not the lack of ridges or unsightly cuticles that brings audiences to their feet, wild with enthusiastic applause and demands for an encore.  Maybe we wasted $20.00.

Maybe we should look into getting our nose hair trimmed.

Allan Ackerman and Audience Members Gone Wild

We have learned so much from Allan Ackerman over the years. His 11 disk set on Erdnase is one of our favorite go-to DVD collections. We love card sleights, we’re from Chicago, we worshiped Ed Marlo and so Mr. Ackerman is a natural fit for us.

Mr. Ackerman was at the Magic Castle last week, performing in the wonderfully appointed Close-Up Gallery. The guy is good. He makes hard stuff look invisible. At the end of the week, he provided the Magician Member only lecture and we stumbled away from the event exhausted. We were tired but it was a good kind of tired. He had some amazing routines and patiently taught each to the nearly sold-out group of very appreciative students.

We mention Mr. Ackerman not only to praise his skills and encyclopedic knowledge of our favorite branch of magic but also to ponder on page what makes bad audience members behave the way they do.

Last week, we watched as Mr. Ackerman dealt with an audience member who was determined to make the show her own. She was an attractive and seemingly normal individual who had demonstrated fine manners before and after the show. But during the show, she turned from a pleasant member of society to someone who caused us concern.

Mr. Ackerman was about to perform what appeared to be a multiple card revelation. He had various spectators select a card from the deck as he riffled through the pack. All was going smoothly until he encountered the subject of our anthropological study.

Armed with apparently a little knowledge of how card tricks work, she sought to disrupt the proceedings by demanding that Mr. Ackerman re-do the selection process several times to make sure that she selected precisely the card she thought she wanted.

The show essentially came to a halt as the spectator insisted Mr. Ackerman conform to her requirements. Finally, in a genial manner, he spread the deck on the table and asked her to take a card according to her whim. The trick was a success despite her efforts to undermine but the rhythm was lost and the rest of the audience suffered as a result.

Why are some people like that? Why would someone want to disrupt a performance. We are not judging but sincerely asking.

The disrupting individual must receive some benefit by acting that way. Assuming that the person is rational, he or she would not do something that would bring discomfort or bad feelings. Or perhaps he or she does feel discomfort but the psychic benefit is greater than the discomfort.

Continue reading “Allan Ackerman and Audience Members Gone Wild”

Lisa Cousins Takes Us Back to Magic of 1909

We love magic and we love history. Ergo, we love Magic History. We love it so much that we went to see Lisa Cousins perform in the Magic Castle’s Parlor of Prestidigitation more than once last week.

Ms. Cousins is an accomplished performer, librarian along with Bill Goodwin in the William W. Larsen Memorial Library and has an infectious appreciation for the history of our craft.

She took audiences back to 1909 when the Lane Mansion – the physical home of the Academy of Magical Arts a/k/a The Magic Castle – was made ready for its first residents. In a well-scripted and delightfully presented show, audiences learned about some of the magic props and styles of the time.

Of particular interest to history buffs like yours truly, Ms. Cousins introduced us to Alice Roosevelt – daughter of Teddy – and her passion for magic. Along the way, we saw the types of magic being sold in brick-and-mortar magic stores and taught through books available to amateurs like the president’s daughter.

Ms. Cousins ended her performance with a wonderful effect set to music originally recorded on an Edison Wax Cylinder in which five watches vanished and reappeared.

The landscape surrounding the Lane Mansion changed almost as soon as the home was made ready for its first residents. The orange groves and dirt roads that made up the Village of Hollywood was claimed by studios and buildings for the nascent film industry.

It is fitting, Ms. Cousins observed, that the Lane Mansion would become a place where magicians could perform as their former venues transformed into “movie houses.”

Ms. Cousins promised to transport audiences back to 1909 and was entirely successful.

We hated to leave that magical time.

The show should be nominated for the Parlor Performer of the Year award.

Arthur Trace and Lisa Cousins at the Castle this Week

Lisa Cousins and Arthur Trace are appearing side-by-side this week at the Magic Castle.

Ms. Cousins, who with Bill Goodwin manages the gem of the Magic Castle – the William W. Larsen. Memorial Library, will be performing in the Parlor of Mystery presenting magic from history. We are looking forward to learning more about what amused, baffled and entertained audiences at the time of Teddy Roosevelt.

Right next door, Inside Magic Favorite Mr. Trace will bring his incredible combination of great manipulative skill and perfect stage presence to what we predict will be completely full houses.

Speaking of which, one of the best things about the Magic Castle is that it constantly attracts so many non-magicians every night of the week. But the downside of such popularity is that seats fill quickly. We are accustomed to giving up our seat if a non-member is waiting. We assume there will be another opportunity to see the performer during one of our later visits in the week. For the non-magician guest, however, this may be their first or only visit.

Last week, we started to doubt our chivalrous approach. We missed out on Bob Cassidy twice – but ultimately saw him on our last try. He was fantastic – as expected. Mr. Cassidy is truly a master of his craft and we are thankful on behalf of all society that he chose to use his powers for good and not evil.

As a student of his DVDs, books (both ebooks and old-fashioned paper and ink) and commercial effects, we are familiar with his methods. And yet, even though he performed an effect he teaches on Mental Miracles, we were still blown away. That is to say, we knew what he was going to do, how he was going to do it and what he did but were still amazed. We didn’t see him do “it” or, for that matter, anything at all.

He is, as they say, really good.

Perhaps he really has special powers and has published the “secrets” to his tricks to distract from his special abilities?

Is that delusional?

We normally do not go in for conspiracy theories unless they involve movie stars or intricate secret societies with cool handshakes and funny hats populated by people who may or may not be in charge of the “real” government.

We also are reluctant to discount any conspiracy theories related to “reality stars” Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashians – there does not seem to be any other plausible explanation for their popularity.

We were sitting next to a fellow student of the great Mr. Cassidy and she was just as amazed. She too had read the books, knew how he was going to do what he was going to do what he did but didn’t see him do what he needed to do to get it done. She attributed this to his presentation and did not buy into our theory that he actually could read minds.

We wanted to engage in further conversation about the likely extra-terrestrial source of Mr. Cassidy’s power but she did not seem interested in continuing the discussion. Actually, she left so quickly we thought there might be a fire or a tiger behind us. Maybe she was just in a hurry. Yes, that is probably it. Unless “they” got to her and she worried about exploring the topic.

We gave up our place in line twice to see Bill Goodwin in the Close-Up Gallery and thought we would have a chance to see him on our third try. We were wrong and got boxed out.

Life is not fair.

Mr. Goodwin was named the Magic Castle Close-Up Performer of the Year at the last awards ceremony and a really nice guy. He runs the Library as if it were his own and all members are his good friends with whom he is willing to share the incredible collection.

We were very disappointed that we could not see him perform. We pouted and thought unkind things towards those who did get to see him – including one member who said he saw him perform twice last week.

We didn’t mean anything bad to happen to that member but at the same time we were jealous, envious and would not have wanted him to win the lottery.

We engaged in self-loathing – still legal in California – for our negative thoughts and tried to ease away the pain with a large Diet Coke. We drank it too quickly and got brain freeze and, seconds later, the hiccups.

We were clearly being punished for our evil envy. We accepted the hiccups like the martyr we were trying to resemble and moped our way back to our little apartment behind the dog treats bakery on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Our two cats could tell something was wrong. They were trying to say something but their powers of communication are rudimentary. We asked them to be more clear or at least more concise or at least to speak one at a time. Cats don’t accept criticism well and they meowed in a manner to suggest the communication problem was ours and not theirs.

As we fell asleep on the inflatable mattress we realized what they were trying to tell us: they had punctured the mattress.

We fell asleep, hiccupping, on the shag carpet and rubber mattress wondering how we could have ever thought we had suffered a wrong.   We did see some great shows – just not all that we wanted to see – we did have a wonderful Diet Coke – evidenced by our hiccups 22 seconds apart – and we had cats who were willing to warn us of problems with our inflatable furniture – although reluctant to admit their complicity in those problems.

Outside the window, we could hear life going on. Tomorrow (today) is a new day and this week will be a new week with great performers to see at the Magic Castle. Our cats curled up at the foot of the sheet of rubber that was our bed and we could feel their purring. They were content. Our hiccups ended and peace fell upon us.

Chocked Full of Magical Goodness – This Week at the Castle

What a week ahead at the World Famous Magic Castle.

The line-up of performers is usually very strong but the next week will feature some amazing talent in all rooms.

Long-time readers of Inside Magic are no doubt aware of our deep reverence for mentalist Bob Cassidy. If Mr. Cassidy wrote it or said it, we consumed it. We have two copies of his outstanding DVD Mental Miracles.

Why two?

It is an old habit from our days working with vinyl records as a disc jockey back in the Midwest. We used to buy two of the great records – one to keep in pristine condition and the other to play. We learned later that DVDs do not wear out quite as quickly as old-fashioned long-playing records or VHS tapes. But, just in case, we are ready.

Plus it is a phenomenal DVD with great mentalism and expert teaching. We used two of the effects – with our own twist – to win some contests. By “with our own twist” we mean we did not steal directly from Mr. Cassidy’s performance.

For instance, we were not as smooth or polished in our presentation and we left out the parts that required any dexterity or thinking. We did, however, don glasses and combed our hair like him. We consider our routines more of an homage rather than a deliberate word-for-word theft of his hard work but only because we like to rationalize to avoid shame spirals and excessive but well-founded self-doubt.

Mr. Cassidy will be in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and so will we. We will be seated, staring with the creepy kind of facial expression that one sees in the lovelorn or pathological, hoping against hope that he chooses us as a volunteer. If he does, we’ll report it here.

Following Mr. Cassidy as the late performer in the Parlor is Rafael Benatar.

We attended Mr. Benatar’s lecture on Sunday and were really impressed. He has a great presence and a well-considered approach to performing magic based on his study under Ascano of Spain. His Cups and Balls was a joy to watch. We learned his own cups had been stolen from his dressing room the night before. We were shocked to hear the news. Call us naïve but we couldn’t imagine a magician stealing props from a colleague. Perhaps it was a non-magician? We thought that was the case until we heard that the thief left the electronics and took only the cups.

Mr. Benatar performed in the Close-Up Gallery last week and will be performing his parlor act in the Parlor – which makes perfect sense and likely did not need to be written.

But wait, there is more.

The Magic Castle’s Librarian Bill Goodwin will be appearing in the Close-Up Gallery and this will be our first opportunity to see him in action. His reputation precedes him and he comes fresh off his win as Close-Up Performer of the Year. We cannot wait to see him perform.

And yet there is even more.

In the Palace of Mystery, Rob Zabrecky, Ardan James and Tina Lenert will be performing on the big stage.

Seriously. At what point does the government need to step in and stop the madness? How many great acts can be booked in one week? Has the Magic Castle no respect for those of us with day jobs who need to get up in the morning?

We have started a course of six espressos every four hours to keep alert so that we can enjoy every minute.

We love performing in the Hat and Hare or Gallery downstairs on the weekends (or whenever we can find one or more people willing to take a card, any card) and sometimes we even feel like we did an okay job in the amateur, impromptu showcase. The contrast this week between the accomplished magicians upstairs and our trembling pawing at cards and spectators downstairs may be too great for us to bear. This might be a great week to just watch the masters at work and enjoy.