Category: Magic Stories

Perhaps Non-Fiction or Fiction

The Puzzle Box

Inside Magic Image of Couple Learning Magic's True SecretsWe had a chance to chance upon a puzzle the other day.  We love puzzles and seek them out, so maybe it wasn’t a chance situation.

We found a box at an antique shop here in Los Angeles.  It was plain on the outside, looked like it was made of oak or some sturdy wood.  We don’t know our woods well but what we do know is the difference between what we would call “Oak” and “Pine.”  It wasn’t Pine so, in our book, it had to be Oak.

It was exactly square and had a small hasp with a small lock but the lock had no keyhole.  It apparently was keeping the box shut but there were no lines in the wood indicating that the box opened at the location of the hasp and lock.

There were seams and lines on the bottom of the box and on one side.  The rest appeared to be carved or derived from one piece of wood, Oak-type wood.

We asked the dealer about it and he said he was told  it was from a salvage done at some place in the Arizona desert.  We asked what was in it and he said he didn’t know because he had never played with it enough to try to open it. We asked how much he wanted for it and that’s when it got interesting.

He said $250 for the box sounded about right.

We said we were thinking more about $10 bucks.  We asked how he could justify $250?

He said that because it could be holding gold coins from the Old West or at least silver coins.

We shook the box but heard no rattles and certainly no clings or clangs indicating coins were within.

The box was relatively heavy, about five pounds.  We figured that Oak — if it was really Oak and not just our binary classification of all woods — would not weigh five pounds by itself.  That caused us to think there must be something inside with the weight of at least a pound.

Gold could weigh at least a pound, silver was less likely and lead could weigh more than a pound.

We mentioned to the bespectacled antique store owner that because neither one of us knew what was in the box — if anything — we should probably try to figure a price that includes the risk that it would contain nothing of value.

He countered that we should figure a price that includes the risk that it probably had something of tremendous value.

We asked that if he thought it had tremendous value, why would he price it at only $250?  Why not $2,000?

He said he didn’t think he could sell it at $2,000 but at $250, it was priced right to match the risk.

How could we be sure that he hadn’t already opened the box and thus knew its contents.

He said he didn’t have time to do something like that, he wasn’t good at puzzles, and his store dealt mostly in furniture and artwork.  This was a strange item he picked up but hadn’t “messed with.”

His store was filled with chairs of different eras, quality, fabric and evidence of use.  He had beautifully framed paintings hung on the walls of his small but maneuverable space.

We offered $15.00 and hoped he would come down.  He didn’t budge.  He did, however, lift his glasses and wiped them with the tail of his shirt, conveniently not tucked into his jeans.  He replaced his glasses and gestured to take the box back for an inspection.  Still saying nothing.

“I could let it go for $200, I suppose,” he said without looking at us.

He handed the box back to us and kept his eyes down.  We thought he might wipe his glasses again.  But he didn’t.  He was just waiting for our response.

“$200 is way out of what we would call a ballpark,” we said.  “How about $30?”

He shook his head and said $200 was the best he could do.  He reminded us again that it might contain gold and that he had never opened it.

“If it could contain gold, why not open it and see?” we asked.

“It would ruin it,” he said.

We were amazed he had this much time to dedicate to this philosophical negotiation.  He had other customers in the shop and while they didn’t look like they needed his help, we imagined that part of being a shopkeeper was helping people find items they didn’t know they needed to buy.

“How would it ruin it?” we asked.  “Right now it is just a box that could contain gold or could contain sand and rocks.  But when we shake it, there are no sounds.”

“Well,” he said, finally looking at us, “it’s your choice.  $200 is my last and best offer.”

We had $200 on us — we just returned from the Poker Room at the Bicycle Club and had a good day.  But we didn’t want to waste it on something that could be nothing.  We didn’t think there was gold in it and we couldn’t see a way to open it without destroying it.  We figured we should just pass on it.  It would make for an interesting story one day; maybe today.

So those were our thoughts and deeply held beliefs.  We were going to pass.  But what we heard us say was, “How about $100.00?”

He extended his hand, we shook it, he gave us the box and we gave him a freshly minted $100 bill.  We looked at the image of Benjamin Franklin as we handed it to the antique store owner.  Mr. Franklin seemed to shaking his head in disapproval or maybe it was just our hands shaking the bill.

We walked out of the store into the bright southern California sunshine and squinted.  The store was apparently much darker than we thought.  We looked at the box in the light, hoping to find the secret to opening it without destroying it.

Then we started thinking crazy things.  Maybe there was gold in it.  Opening it would answer the question but not knowing for sure had value as well.

We got on the Santa Monica bus with the box in our lap.  A woman next to us asked about it.

“It is a box from an archaeological dig.  I was told there might be gold in it.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” she said and reached out to feel the wood.  “Is that maple?”

“Could be,” we said.  “Maybe oak.”

“We’ll its very pretty.  Where did you get it?”

“Right over there at that store,” we said as we turned to point out the shop but as we did we couldn’t find it.  There were so many stores in the strip mall, it could have been that we lost track of it.

Thanksgivings Past: Grandfather Hardy and Tasha

Astounded.jpgLong-time readers of Inside Magic are already familiar with this story.  Almost all of it nearly true.

It was Thanksgiving dinner years ago.  The family was gathered around the table.  We have a large family both in girth and number.  Our now departed grandfather and the magician scion of the Hardy clan (our family’s stage name) was seated at the head of the elongated table created by pushing three wooden tables and one card table into a long row.

Grandfather Hardy (his real last name from which we took our stage name) clutched the family bible in his liver-spotted hands and gazed over his progeny with pride.  Assembled were five magicians and their families as well as non-magicians and their families.  He was waiting for all to cease their conversations, the passing of plates and the taking of places.

Once all were quiet, Grandfather Hardy turned to his favorite passage from the holy book on Thanksgiving day, John 10:10 “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.”  He spoke for a few minutes about the abundant life God had provided and a tear formed in his right eye, his voice cracked and he looked down at his amply filled plate.  “We have much abundance and for that we should always be thankful.”

He crossed himself and we all followed – even those around the table who did not customarily cross themselves in their faith.

We began to eat.

There was clanging of forks and knives on Grandmother Hardy’s prized china and the occasional sounds of chomping from those in our family who had no manners and could not close their mouths whilst eating.  We thought nothing of it, though.  This was a time of family dedicated to giving thanks.

Then Grandfather Hardy brought out a deck of cards.

The mood around the table changed.

Some of us were excited.  Some showed signs of ennui and others just averted their glance from the old man and his preparation to show a card trick.

There are people who eat with their mouths open and people who don’t like card tricks.  If you were to draw a Ven Diagram describing those two groups, they would not only connect, they would likely match  up exactly in one circle with no evidence of outliers.

Grandfather Hardy asked the youngest of the families to select a card from the deck.

Young Natasha was just four but knew how to select a card and was excited about the attention she was now receiving from not only her Great Grandfather but also the entire crowded table.  She pondered the perfect fan of cards before her and made a selection.

“Show it to everyone but not me,” Grandfather Hardy said.

Natasha did as she was told.  Our memory may be fading but we think it was the two of clubs.

“Now, Tasha, Grandfather Hardy said with a smile, “sign the card so we’ll know it is yours if we see it again.”

She joined in the smile and looked to her mother, our aunt, as she took the pen she was handed and slowly, very slowly wrote her name on the card.  It said, “Tasha.”

Without urging from Grandfather Hardy, she placed the card back in the deck, still spread in a perfect fan.  She knew the elements of such a trick.

Grandfather Hardy handed the deck to Tasha’s mother and asked her to help her daughter shuffle it thoroughly.  The two shuffled for quite a while – or so it seemed to the magicians around the table.  It is difficult to say what the non-magicians thought.

Tasha’s mother returned the deck to her father and he held it fairly in his left hand.

“Tasha,” he said. “Do you remember what your card looked like?”

Tasha turned to her mother with a smile.  Her mother whispered something in her ear and Tasha turned back to greet the gaze of her Great Grandfather.  “Two of cubs,” she said.

“Indeed?” asked Grandfather Hardy.  “And it has your signature on it too.”

Tasha nodded and looked back at her mother for approval.  Her mother again whispered something in her ear and she turned again towards the table and nodded with a smile.

“Take a look at the cards and tell me if you see yours,” Grandfather Hardy instructed with a kind smile.

As he turned the deck face up and began to spread them across the tablecloth – one of four covering the assembly of tables – everyone could see that all of the cards were blank.  Tasha’s card was gone but so were the faces of all others.

Tasha’s eyes grew wide.  She had never seen this trick before.  She had been the volunteer for many of the old man’s tricks but this was a new one.  She turned to her mother again as if to verify that what she was seeing was not only amazing to her but to others.  She saw her mother’s proud smile and her smile increased accordingly.

“Where did it go?” Grandfather Hardy asked.

Tasha shook her head, still smiling.

“Look under your plate, Tasha,” Grandfather Hardy said softly.

Tasha lifted her plate and taking the instructions very literally looked at the bottom of the plate, not the table beneath.  Her mother pointed down to the table and drew her daughter’s attention to a single face down card.

Tasha seemed to accept that the trick was over.  She was impressed, delighted, amused, and very, very happy.  She had no need to turn over the card, she knew it had to be the one she selected and signed.

“Turn it over,” said several of the non-magician family members almost in unison.

Tasha did as she was urged and indeed the card was the same one she had selected and signed.

Her smile grew wider, she looked to her mother and now back to Grandfather Hardy and then her mother again.

She leapt from her chair to give the old man a hug and a kiss.  He accepted both and hugged her tightly.

His eyes were filled with tears now.

“Abundantly,” he said with cracking voice.  “We have been blessed with abundance.”

“Psychic” Reveals Tricks of Trade

Inside Magic Image of Psychic SignThe Guardian newspaper had a great article this weekend about what it is like to be a psychic and astrologer.

The author of this fascinating piece quit the practice but leaves the reader – us in this case – wondering if she still believed she possessed some power to read the future or the inner-struggles of her customers.

“The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change. I heard these stories so often I could often guess what the problem was the moment someone walked in. Heartbroken young men, for example, talk about it to psychics, because it’s less risky than telling their friends. Sometimes I’d mischievously say, ‘Let her go. She’s not worth it,’ as soon as one arrived. Once I heard, ‘Oh my God, oh my GOD!’ as an amazed guy fell backwards down the stairs.”

She explains her start in the practice beginning with studying astrology and the tarot.  She signed up for a year-long course at the Sydney Astrology Centre, where she learned how the planets and their alignments vis-a-vis the birthdate of individuals could reveal much.

Her conclusion after studying the mystical methods of the astrologer? “Astrology is one big word association game.”

Her appreciation for the life of a fortune teller waned with the realization that no matter what she foretold and no matter how vague her readings, customers readily made all of the mental associations to give truth to her predictions.

“What broke the spell for me was, oddly, people swearing by my gift. Some repeat customers claimed I’d made very specific predictions, of a kind I never made.”

It is a fascinating article, in part, because she does not conclude the ability to read people is bunk.  She found a talent for evaluating what and how people asked questions that gave away what they wanted to hear.  In essence, she discovered cold reading but without an intention to defraud.

We couldn’t help but be reminded of a great book by Ian Rowland, The Full Facts of Cold Reading.  While the author of The Guardian article apparently stumbled upon the tricks of honest and dishonest practitioners of Cold Reading, Mr. Rowland provides a crash course chocked-full of secrets and methods.

Check it out in The Guardian here.

A New Magic Niche: Oldsters

Inside Magic Image of Houdini and DoyleThere are a lot of innovative magicians out there.  They invent magic tricks we could never conceive.  But as we were told at a bus stop in West Hollywood, “Invent what you know.”

We have no idea what its real purpose was but it inspired us.  We should create tricks that are based on the things we handle every day.  Then we should find an audience of similarly minded (and aged) people to whom we can perform and sell the tricks.

The CPAP of Mystery:

This is a trick involving a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine.  It is a staple of those afflicted with sleep apnea – one of the few disorders that affect the entire family except for the person with the disorder.  It stops obnoxious and annoying snoring.

(Ironically, Obnoxious and Annoying was the name of our first duo act.  We played the mischievous character Annoying (despite being underweight for the part) and a current star of stage and screen played Mr. Obnoxious.  We were true to the script as written by Shakespeare and even wore period costumes.  Few playgoers have read the original text and, to be honest, it is a play often over-looked by Shakespearean scholars.  Additionally it is four hours long.  And we performed it without scenery or props.  And we could not afford stage lights so we used flashlights to shine on each other. And our make-up was overdone due to a product placement deal we had with L’Oréal.  Nonetheless, it was up for a Tony® award but it was a tough year and we lost to A Chorus Line.  Our agent’s protests that we should be in the category for dramatic performance fell on deaf ears and we were pitted against one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time.  As most English majors can recall, Obnoxious and Annoying does have some singing and dancing in the seventh act when Annoying pretends to be dancing with the love of his life, Spiteful.  The New York Times gave it a middling review, “There is a good reason this play is overlooked when one considers the full range of Shakespearean plays, it is terrible.  But here we have two men willing to perform a play that should have been burned or used as scrap-paper acting without any accoutrements on a stage too small in a room too large for its pitiful audience size.”  The New Yorker was not as kind, “Obnoxious and Annoying and Too Long” should have been the title for this forgettable foray into a play the Great Bard himself said was “not worthy of his cheapest ink.”)

But back to the illusion of the CPAP machine.  An audience member selects a card from a freely shuffled deck, signs it, returns it to the deck.  And then she throws the deck directly at the performer wearing a CPAP mask.  The card instantly appears in the mask and when turned around (with either the performer’s fingers or tongue), it is shown to be the signed card.  With a CPAP machine, we could sell it for $1,700.  Without the CPAP machine – in case the performer already has one – it would cost $3.00.  We think it would be a big hit. Continue reading “A New Magic Niche: Oldsters”

Another Magic Podcast?

Inside Magic Library Cover Page for Happy Hollisters and the Perfect FarosWe are considering launching a magic podcast with an emphasis on some of the older magicians who can provide a narrative history of our wonderful art.  From our review of the current world of magic podcasts, it appears the topic of young and innovative magicians is covered.

We find great joy in hearing stories of those that worked the same roads and rooms (and roads and rooms no longer in existence) and imagine podcast audiences will feel the same way.

When we say older magicians, we don’t mean old in age but in experience.  If you are aware of or are a magician with a great story, we’d love to talk to you.  No need to come to our posh studio apartment on top of the dog food store in West Hollywood.  We can set up a Skype session or even use the telephone to talk.

Send your nominations to podcast@insidemagic.com and let’s set it up.  It would be helpful to give us a little of your background and then our research staff will dig to create questions designed to let you tell your story.

The podcast will not just be for magicians, but everyone in the variety arts — including agents and managers.

Send us your suggestions to podcast@insidemagic.com and we’ll get right back to you.

 

Trying to Like Magic Card Decks

Image of Really Poorly Marked CardsWe are warming to tattoos and body piercing (other than earrings) but we are having a hard time with deck collectors. 

Admittedly we have no place from which to speak on this topic.

People like different things.

We love The Ball and Vase and have bought maybe a hundred in this short shuffle up on the mortal coil from which we will all be called up one day to justify our choices, decisions and purchases.  We figure we can defend the first 20 Ball and Vase tricks.  We were young, we didn’t know, others were doing it, we were raised by doting parents that would indulge our every whim as long as it had to do with schoolwork or applications to go to another school to do school work.  We had thousands of pencils (mechanical and wood), pens a plenty (the name of our first writing instrument internet shoppe.

It failed due to a horrible spate of product liability suits brought allegedly due to springs that were too tight.  When you would open the container to refill the pen, the old refill would shoot from the pen body with the force of Titan rocket (first stage).  The good news, we sold very few of them and the even better news, we sold even fewer refills.  The bad news, enough people bought the pens to narrowly miss horrific physical injuries.  No one was injured or claimed to be.  We took the pen off the market and went broke.  Ironically, we wrote the bankruptcy papers with one of the killer pens.

But let us return to the subject at hand.  Card decks.

In our limited and noisy world (tinnitus is a pain and real.  We know, we sit next to someone who has it and they complain all day – they never shut up (© Run DMC)) we have two choices of decks with which we will perform – a red Bee deck and a blue Bee deck – both Jumbo Index.  That’s it.  No others make the cut.

“Hey, Tim,” you ask.  “How about that new deck made on USPC stock that has the clown from IT?

Nope.

“What about the ones that have the wacky numbering?

No can do.

“What about your conviction in 1969 on your way to Woodstock?”

Wasn’t me.  Wasn’t a conviction.  My judgment was practically expunged.  Plus I wasn’t born or I was too old at the time. Continue reading “Trying to Like Magic Card Decks”

Our Magic Confession

Inside Magic Image of Avid Readers of Panther PrideMagicians, as a whole, are prideful.  We worry about our image, practice sleights to perfect them before presenting, write and rehearse patter, and of course comb our little remaining hair and clip or appropriately decorate our nails.

So our admission is hard to make.  We are shaking at the keyboard as we type – likely attributable to the unsteady shocks in the Los Angeles Metro Bus – but still we’re shaking so that means something.

The person reading this post next to us on the bus – and that is very nosey and they should be looking forward and not correcting our prose – says we should just get to it and stop being so dramatic.  Further, he says it doesn’t look like we remembered to take pains to improve our image before leaving for work today and why would a famous magician be riding a bus along Santa Monica Boulevard instead of traveling by limo or at least Uber?

We hope he gets off soon.

Okay, here’s the admission: we cannot do a perfect pressure fan.  We can do all sorts of fans but not a proper pressure fan.  There, it is out in the open now.  You can judge us.  Our fellow rider said if he knew what a “pressure fan” was he would judge us.  He is laughing now.  Probably at his own joke or maybe he is laughing at us.

We have been trying to do a proper pressure fan since we were twelve-years-old.  We can do a one-handed shuffle with either hand and lifts that would impress anyone except they’re so good they can’t be detected.  The fellow rider has stopped reading and is now eating Fritos very loudly.

We’ve read the technique, we’ve watched young children do perfect pressure fans with cards bigger than their cherubic faces.  We fail.

He is now drinking something from what looks to be an adult sippy cup but because he hasn’t opened to top properly, it is making a thunk-pop noise with every suck of liquid.  We wish he would go back to the Fritos but fear this will be a constant part of the ride for a while.  He’ll eat the Fritos, loudly, get thirsty, drink from the sippy cup and then back to the Fritos.

At The Magic Castle we watch with envy as magicians perform their wonderfully practiced routines but become irrationally jealous, insecure and diminished when they perform a pressure fan with such a smooth handling that it appears the cards perfectly align about their fingers with ease.  If only, we say silently, we had such skills.

We have thought of asking the more talented members at The Magic Castle, to teach us how to do a perfect pressure fan but we feel so much shame for not knowing at this point in our career.  We feel we are an impostor, a fraud; in an art that relishes impostors and frauds — so there is that philosophical, logic puzzle to work through.

He is back reading and corrected our characterization of his chocolate milk container as a “sippy cup” and does not think it should be our concern about his eating and drinking habits.

Perhaps that is the key.  Maybe we should not jealously covet the skills of other magicians, accept that we are at this time, unable to do a pressure fan and even though we haven’t for the last 90-years, we may one day develop the skill.  Just as we should not be concerned about others’ drinking and eating routines, we should be focused on what we can do and not what others are doing.

Our fellow rider has pulled the stop cord and is gathering his full meal and drink to depart.  He read the last part of this post and disagrees.  “You shouldn’t care what other folks are eating and drinking but you should at least know how to do a pressure fan if you’re going to call yourself a magician.”

We are pierced.

Our seatmate has left the bus now and we have a vacant seat next to us.  It is time to close the computer before we encounter another critic/editor for our long ride.

Magnetic Magic is Marvelous.

Inside Magic Image of Magnetic AttractionThis article is about magic and magnets.  If you are offended by either, you can skip to the website listed at the bottom to see the best array of magnets but we don’t know why you would, if you are truly offended unless you are only offended by the combination of magic and magnetics and like each individually just fine.

Just like we don’t know why we read from the back of the magazine first or try to invent new methods of throwing our used paper towels into the trash, we love magnets.  Maybe it’s just the way we were raised.  We recall, fondly, spending summers out at our uncle’s magnet farm and watch as he harvested them – each  year hoping for a good planting season and each year being a bit, just a bit disappointed but hopeful for next year.

The freshness dates on magnets are close to forever but our family was never one for storing things, so we’d rush the magnets to market and offer them to those who waited the entire spring season for new magnets.  Some had plenty of magnets already but they wanted the latest model or one with more strength.  We didn’t blame them.  Magnets are magic in their own right.

It was years after those blissful days at our uncle’s farm that we learned that magnets can be used for things.  One can use a magnet to hold a note to a steel refrigerator door to show off artwork or attach a “to do” list – named “to do” after the Earl of Sandwich youngest daughter, Toodles.  She would bring him sandwiches during his all day card games and make a list of ingredients for the household staff to purchase.

In the past year, we have learned that one can even use magnets in magic tricks.  We don’t know if this has been considered before but we found a way to use magnets with different polarities to hold things together or even (with one of the magnets reversed) to repel.

We are currently working on a levitation where our assistant (and applications to be that assistant are still available because of the alleged “danger”) wears a special costume composed of magnets set to repel magnets in a specially designed, high-power electrically wired base.  This would cause – to the best of our estimation – the assistant to appear to float.  We have tried it with store manikins (our other true love) and the effect is a bit clumsy still. For instance, if the assistant rotates even a little, he or she will slam to the base with a horrible, fracturing thump.  We have also abandoned the steel ring we were using to show there were no wires.  We nearly broke our shoulder when we were pulled to the base because we wouldn’t let go of the ring – again with a horrible thump – and then struck by the manikin constrained by the ring and now attracted to the base.

Edison said invention is 99 percent something and 1 percent something dealing with sweat.  We know some work lies ahead of us to perfect the effect but that won’t stop us from advertising it for sale very soon.

We are trying to come up with a name for the effect that won’t give away the use of magnets.  “Floating Person” and “Floating Lady” are the two we have hit on so far.  We are thinking the pricing will be some amount more than what it costs to make – that is currently $32,000.00.

A downside – or maybe a feature – is that when the base magnet is turned on and electricity is flowing, the platform emits the attractive strength to snatch from their owners: watches, pens, 1943 U.S. pennies (they were made of steel during the war), pacemakers, some orthodontia, steel plates in heads, animal collars (with or without animals), hip replacement parts, car parts and manikin stands.  It could be a feature if we could hide the fact that it was the magnetic base that was attracting these steel parts and if we didn’t kill anyone by having parts ripped from their bodies or injure animals – all of our magic is animal friendly.

Our uncle’s farm went the way of many magnetic fields.  The land was mined with specialized tools and sold off to rich people with a need for magnets and large freshly mined fields.  The 42 acre spread is now an empty field just off the highway in Southern Illinois.  It used to be in Michigan but was moved because it was attracting fish out of the Great (ha!) Lakes.  Now it is just a safe piece of land with an occasional magnetic just below its grassy surface.

In fact, if the farm hadn’t been moved and mined, we could have brought the price down for our illusion to free plus 10 percent of free for profit.  But now we need to buy magnets on the open market.

Fortunately, we found just the spot.  K&J Magnetics have every kind of magnet you could want.  Want a ring shaped magnet?  Want a square magnet? Want a round magnet? K&J Magnets has them all.

You can check out the K&J Magnetics site here.

By the way, we are receiving no compensation from K&J Magnetics.  We just love their site.  It is like a wishbook for magic and magnet lovers.

Read a full history on our uncle’s farm and the magnet price war of 1972 that led to the mining and sale of the farm in our upcoming book, Magnetic Money Maker: The True Story of a Man and His Magnets and the Forces that Sought to Repel Him.

Congressional Resolution on Magic Stalls

Inside Magic Image of The Grim Game PosterWe learned today that the Magic Resolution stalled in House of Representatives

We’ve all done it and by “we” we mean “us.”  Read through the U.S. Congressional and Senate dockets, looking for magic-related items so that we can spring into junior lobbyist and fight for or against the bill by whipping up support among the very influential “magician vote” and donate tens of dollars to candidates supporting our position.

We are ashamed (for the purposes of this post only) that we did not notice a bill that remains pending in the U.S. House of Representatives; at least it appears stalled according to the “Actions” tab on the Congressional status page.

As far as we can tell, H.Res.642 — 114th Congress (2015-2016) is dead.  It was referred to committee and never returned.  Maybe it was replaced with another bill in this, the 115th Congress, but we have not found that piece of legislation yet.  The bill read in appropriate part:

Recognizing magic as a rare and valuable art form and national treasure.

Whereas magic is an art form with the unique power and potential to impact the lives of all people;

Whereas magic enables people to experience the impossible;

Whereas magic is used to inspire and bring wonder and happiness to others;

Whereas magic has had a significant impact on other art forms;

Whereas magic, like the great art forms of dance, literature, theater, film, and the visual arts, allows people to experience something that transcends the written word;

Whereas many technological advances can be directly traced to the influential work of magicians;

Whereas futurist Arthur C. Clarke claimed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic;

Whereas one of the greatest artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci, was inspired by magic and co-wrote one of the very first books on magic in the late 15th century;

Whereas modern cinema would not exist today without the innovative work of the accomplished magician Georges Méliès;

Whereas magicians are visual storytellers who seamlessly interweave elements of mystery, wonder, emotion, and expression;

Whereas magic is an outstanding artistic model of individual expression;

Whereas magic fulfills some of the highest ideals and aspirations of our country by encouraging people to question what they believe and see;

Whereas magic is a unifying force across cultural, religious, ethnic, and age differences in our diverse Nation;

Whereas magic is an art that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary;

Whereas the American magicians Harry Houdini and David Copperfield have been the most successful magicians of the past two centuries;

Whereas David Copperfield, introduced to magic as a boy growing up in New Jersey, has been named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress;

Whereas David Copperfield, with 21 Emmy Awards, 11 Guinness World Records, and over four billion dollars in ticket sales, has impacted every aspect of the global entertainment industry;

Whereas David Copperfield, through his magic, inspires great positive change in the lives of Americans;

Whereas people consistently leave David Copperfield’s live magic show with a different perspective than when they entered;

Whereas Rebecca Brown of Portland, Oregon, left a David Copperfield magic show with a newfound inspiration to pursue her lifelong, unfulfilled passion for dance;

Whereas three months after Rebecca Brown attended the David Copperfield magic show, she performed her first choreographed recital in Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Square;

Whereas programs such as Project Magic, created by David Copperfield, use magic as a form of therapy for children with physical, psychological, and social disabilities;

Whereas learning magic through programs such as Project Magic can help these children improve their physical and mental dexterity and increase their confidence;

Whereas learning magic through programs such as Project Magic helps these children realize that they are no longer less able than their peers;

Whereas programs such as Project Magic teach these children that they are more capable and have a newfound ability to do what others cannot;

Whereas cities such as Wylie, Texas, and its mayor, Eric Hogue, recognize and promote the art of magic with official proclamations, summer educational programs, and the first festival dedicated to the art of magic in the State of Texas;

Whereas Mayor Eric Hogue, who learned the art of magic as a child, continues to use those skills to teach elementary school students about the different roles and responsibilities of local government;

Whereas magic is timeless in appeal and requires only the capacity to dream;

Whereas magic transcends any barrier of race, religion, language, or culture;

Whereas magic has not been properly recognized as a great American art form, nor has it been accorded the institutional status on a national level commensurate with its value and importance;

Whereas there is not an effective national effort to support and preserve magic;

Whereas documentation and archival support required by such a great art form has yet to be systematically applied to the field of magic; and

Whereas it is in the best interest of the national welfare to preserve and celebrate the unique art form of magic: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) recognizes magic as a rare and valuable art form and national treasure; and

(2) supports efforts to make certain that magic is preserved, understood, and promulgated.

 

We understand that this is a hot button issue but suggest that Congress consider carefully whether they wish to drum-up the ire of magicians by letting this resolution sit.  We agree that “it is in the best interest of the national welfare to preserve and celebrate the unique art form of magic.”  We even agree not to move for an amendment proclaiming the inherent value of magic-based websites such as InsideMagic.com.  We would also leave off our language requiring a grant to such websites to study further the influence of Magic on the general population.  That’s how sincere we are.  We don’t often take political stands but when we do, we stand up tall.

Some will point with scorn at our 1988 attempt to become mayor of Mystic Hollow.  We lost by 15 votes in a community of 45.

It was a hard loss and we took it hard.

We tried to figure out who would vote against us and favor of the mayor who had led our town so ably for 20 years before.  Some pointed to our scandal plagued past (and there is still no proof we used a marked deck in our performance of “Pick a Card” on local cable television); or our inability to name any of the responsibilities of Mayor; or our very fashion forward wearing of Miami Vice colors sans ties.  We think the reason we lost was because Mystic Hollow was not ready for the type of change we wanted to bring to the hamlet.

Our platform:

  1. Free breakfast (meaning at least a donut) for all residents;
  2. Free lunch (meaning at least a potpie) for all residents who did not already have lunch or breakfast;
  3. Free dinner in exchange for a promise to perform a magic trick for other customers at the French Drop Inn;
  4. Free rent for all still living in their parents’ home;
  5. All cards should be made by U.S. Playing Cards in Cincinnati, Ohio (this was a toss to a local job creator that ultimately moved some production to Kentucky);
  6. Rabbit breeding should be inspected by the local vet;
  7. No wearing pajamas in public (this was said to unfairly single out Tony Spain and his family but the Tony Spain – Inside Magic feud was already too far along to stop);
  8. Free late night snack (meaning at least one donut not held over from the previous day although said donut could be of the population of donuts that would be offered for breakfast on the following day);

 

Our opponent, Mayor Niceguy (pronounced “Neece gee” in our campaign advertising) promised only to keep things the same.

After he won, he called to extend his gracious thoughts and appreciation of our down-and-dirty campaign.  We took it the best we could; considering we had used all of the napkins allotted by the always considerate staff at the Dunkin’ Donuts – site of our campaign’s anticipated celebration.  He offered us a job in his administration as a “gopher” or “go fer” to help out around the office and bring / pick-up things for him.  As flattered as we were to be considered for such a position, it seemed like too much work and we were in a bad place emotionally after losing.  As we told a reporter for Time magazine, “It hurts real bad.”  To be candid, the reporter was just in town covering a welding explosion and this was ten years after the election and we’re not sure the reporter heard us.

But our democracy is alive except the bill that would recognize Magic as an invaluable art form is apparently dead.  We’ll follow up on this after the elections in November.   We expect this bill to be a huge issue in the debates and advertising.  We also expect that the McRib will become a regular item available at McDonald’s and not just something that comes and goes.

Read the full bill and the activities behind it here.

Read a great Business Insider article on how the bill got its start here.

See the “I’m Just a Bill” video for further education on the process on YouTube here.

Read just one of our articles attacking Tony Spain here.

Magic, Mystery and Mentalism – a Moral Lesson

Inside MagicImage of Concerned WomanMentalism, Magic and Mystery are three very different things – at least in our tattered book.  We have never gotten into trouble with Magic and Mystery but on a couple of occasions have experienced harsh but understandable reactions from Mentalism.

First of all, we are out of the Mentalism biz.  It used to be the cool thing around the time of people bending things and using specially patterned cards to read minds.  There was a time in our business when everyone claimed they could read minds.  Why they did that was always a mystery (little “m” mystery) to us.  It gained them some notoriety but it would seem to invite constant challenges.

Slowly the world of Mentalism evolved to not claiming to be capable of reading minds.  There were some who continued to make the claims but they were now considered psychics and not Mentalists.  We were always in the Mentalism camp – back during our Mentalism days.  We would, contrary to psychics, affirmatively tell audiences we cannot read minds.  We could influence choices and perhaps pick up tells given by volunteers but never, ever could we read minds.

Except one time.

The following story is an amalgam of two events to protect the innocent and make our point.

We performed what Magicians would call a one-in-a-million shot.  Our hole card is the Four of Hearts.  We don’t know why but it seems like a good even number and has pretty hearts that can be read from the back of the audience.  We were performing for some Boy Scouts and held an over-sized card before us and asked a woman in the far back to name a card.  Our intention was to fail to have predicted the card and then go about our act explaining why we do not claim Mentalism power.

She called out in a loud and clear voice, “The Four of Hearts!”

We were far less mature then.

We should have joked it off, not shown the card, and said that was why we did not claim to have special powers.  But we couldn’t resist.  We milked the moment and when we finally turned the card to face the audience, there was true amazement.  Unfortunately, there was also deep concern in the heart of the woman – the mother of one of a young scout.

She asked us almost immediately after finishing our routine, how we could possibly know the card.  She had told no one and didn’t even know she was going to be a volunteer.  Again, we were immature and in need of validation; even at the cost of someone else’s emotional toil.

“I don’t know for sure, we have a talent to read minds sometimes,” we said proudly.

It wasn’t true and still isn’t.  We can’t read minds.  We can’t even read fortune cookies without bifocals.  We do have a very special talent in reading The Racing Form but our mounting losses over the years have proven that talent does not lead to accurate predictions of horse races.

The scout mom became upset.  She asked if we could read her mind at that very moment.  We paused as if trying to gather psychic messages and had to admit that we could not.  But now she did not believe us.  We were lying and reading minds.  A very bad combination at a scout meeting.

“The Bible is against false prophets,” she told us as she took her boy behind her back and walked away from us.

We felt terrible.  Horrible.  We had offended – unnecessarily but for our own self-aggrandizement – a seemingly innocent, concerned mother and likely her son.

That is where the Mystery comes into the equation.  Magic, to us, is clean.  Things vanish, appear, and change shape or quality.  Birds come from places you would least expect and disappear into places far too small for them.  Magic is the kind of thing you would do (or we would do) for children, teens, adults and even people our age.  Mentalism requires some advanced thinking on the part of the audience and if introduced as a real power can cause real concern.

We don’t want to concern anyone with our act.  We do our double-lifts, false shuffles, second deals and what passes for a bottom deal and no one is emotionally concerned.  We do a short card divination but never describe it as Mentalism.  It is merely a demonstration of influence and picking up “tells.”

There are performers with more experience and ability than us.  They would handle the troop mother incident in a far better manner.  Perhaps they could even devise a method of proclaiming psychic powers that would cause no concern.  We lack those abilities.  But we can drink whole milk without having stomach or intestinal upset so we are all blessed in different ways.  (We are not saying and would never say all self-proclaimed psychics are lactose intolerant; only that most are and we are not).

The Mystery is why we would do such a thing?  Why would we concern a troop mom by persisting in the “gag” and asserting an ability we do not have and have never possessed?  We learned our lesson years ago but pass it along for those starting out in our wonderful Art.  There are very real consequences to what we do and how we choose to entertain.