Category: Magic Stories

Perhaps Non-Fiction or Fiction

Our Magic Plan for the LA Marathon

Pure genius is how we modestly describe our latest development in bringing our act to the vast, unwashed and sweaty masses of Southern California.
We have done our research and determined some interesting facts about the greater Hollywood area: there are several movie and television studios within an Uber ride from the Magic Castle, many people who work at high-levels in popular media are health conscious and run to stay in shape, and a substantial subset of moguls and moguls-to-be (we think they are affectionately called “mogulettes”) will be in the Los Angeles Marathon this Sunday.
We think you see where we are going with this.
We have been working on an act we can perform for the high-fliers as they run the marathon course right by our spacious studio apartment near the bakery for dogs on historic Santa Monica Boulevard.
Because the marathon will be run outdoors, we have eliminated several effects from our tentative set-list including: our barehanded dove production, our gloved-handed falcon production, our take off on the classic Think-a-Drink we perform with scratch-and-sniff imbued playing cards under the title Think-a-Stink, the Kellar Spirit Cabinet and Kevin James’ Snowstorm.
Our research confirmed that by the time the throng of influence-wielding runners reach the water station adjacent to our staked-out position, they will have run 17.3 miles. They will likely be pretty tired and because it is supposed to be a very hot day, they will probably be thirsty too. As they slow to grab a cup of what scientists inexplicably call H2O, we will be there with our well-rehearsed abbreviated routine ready to entertain.
The genius part of our plan – other than what we have set forth so far – is that as the marathon proceeds, the slower runners tend to follow the faster runners. So, yes, we won’t be able to do our full routine for the Kenyan front-runners that should pass our table just minutes after the race begins, but after about two hours, we will have gobs of heaving, perspiring audiences filing past.
Our research also revealed that professional marathoners do not tend to be members of upper-management in the major studios. World-class runners have to focus on things like training, eating enough to maintain their ideal weight and studying the latest techniques in not dropping dead whilst enduring horrible physical torture.
Studio moguls, on the other hand, are often able to run 17.2 miles in 3 to 4 hours. What a treat they will have when they hit what we are calling The Magic Mile Marker®.
Because our time with each runner will be limited, we have cut down much of our opening monologue. Yes, we’ll still do our beloved bits about our brush with mental illness, how unattractive the last audience was and, of course, how airline food is terrible. But then, it is right into the good stuff. By meeting up with the runner/audience as they approach the water station, we can lengthen our time together, giving them time to select a card, return it to deck and watch with delight as we go into our wacky Ambitious Card routine.
As our fan knows, our original take on this classic card trick – which we cleverly call, Oh, No, Not Again! – usually lasts about 90 minutes and involves revelations from all parts of what some less-attentive audience members believe is a well-shuffled deck. We have shortened it to 90 seconds by limiting it to just seven reveals.
Even a runner cannot jog in place for all 90 seconds, we can run along with them and finish the bit with our big finale where their card ends up in small box, inside a bigger box, inside a handkerchief removed from our specially-tailored silk MC Hammer sultan pants. Because of the ingenious method in which we perform this effect, it resets almost instantly.
We expect this to be a big hit and it will probably be pilfered by less-creative magicians but we do not care. As we say during cold and flu season, “there’s a lot more where that came from.”
See you Sunday!

Flop Sweat – A Magical Metaphor

His fevered brain was unmerciful.

“A grown man reacting like this?  What are you going to do, cry?”

His consciousness was becoming focused as it careened off the neural pathways on its way to activating the part of his brain where options were binary: fight or flight.  It was not a direct path, however.  His psyche made an apparently mandatory stop along the way to trigger the cluster of neurons that apportion shame and blame.  It was hard to believe there was an evolutionary benefit to having shame and blame sensors in the neural pathways but they were there.

The sweat – which, if he survived, he knew he would later describe as “flop sweat” – was spreading across his flushed face and he could feel his body rapidly heat up.  His vision narrowed to exclude almost all but the botched effect sitting before him on the table.  He had to physically lift his head to see the audience and then lower his head to again look at the prop.

What could he do?  He could fight – think of a way to get himself out of the botched effect, hope the audience indulged his mortal failing and move on.  Or he could take flight – give into the panic and embarrassment and walk briskly from the small stage.

At the moment, however, he was unable to make a decision.

He was frozen on stage, looking at the table and the visible evidence of his failure to sufficiently practice a new effect before adding it to his routine.  The shame and blame sensors were firing even if all other parts of the brain were quiet.

He was amazed that he could have these feelings of panic and indecision and shame at this point in his career, his life.  He was no kid, not even a young middle-aged performer.  He had been around for quite a while and performed audiences larger than this, on stages far nicer and for more money. So why was he on the verge of tears?

Time was stopped, it seemed.  Perhaps it was the same sensation experienced by the deer caught in the headlights or the gazelle being stalked.  This wasn’t life or death.  There wouldn’t be a scar or anything more than a good, humiliating war story that he could to choose to tell.

But tears?  Why would he cry about this?  Why would tears be a response to a public failure of his own making?  Wouldn’t tears just add to the shame and embarrassment? Was that part of the evolutionary plan – make the humiliating event thoroughly and irretrievably a moment of failure?

The audience was looking at him but apparently without judgment.  Perhaps they had not seen his failure or thought it was part of the routine? They would soon realize it was a failure that would cut short his performance.  Then the faces would reflect a different attitude, he thought.  That’s when the judgment will kick in and his shame, flushing, sweat and inability to calmly fix things would become obvious.  They would see that he was a fraud – not a good performer, worthy of their attention and enthusiasm.

He could survive this if he just had to deal with the flop-sweat, the feeling of embarrassment and a momentary lapse in what had been a smoothly running routine.  All of that could be explained and laughed about but if he couldn’t avoid crying, all was lost.

He felt his consciousness move towards one of the two impulses.  His battle would focus solely on not crying.  He took a breath, smiled, stepped forward and took another breath.

“For my  next trick . . .” he offered with a forced smile and a humbled tone.

Guest Article: The Kids’ Show Done New

[It is the policy of Inside Magic to offer its readers new and different views on the art of magic — even if they are offered by those who have no reputation for honesty or integrity.  Today’s submission is an essay on a new and different approach to magic for kids.  Inside Magic does not approve of Tony Spain’s thoughts or approach to kids’ magic.  In fact, we find them horrible.]


It is a given – and so I’ll write it at the beginning and get it over with – that people are reluctant to accept the new and cling so tightly to the old.  The old is comfortable, fits well with their beliefs (in part because the beliefs have been formed by the comfortable fit with the old pattern) and to leave the comfortable is to risk the unknown.

I think it was John Wilkes Booth that yelled Sic Semper Tyranus as he hit the stage floor after assassinating President Lincoln.  His words are reportedly from some foreign language, maybe Latin – even though people didn’t speak Latin then – and some scholars have translated them to mean, “So Always Goes (or With) Tyrants.”

Phillipe Anjou, the cartoonist and creative mind behind the 1870’s most famous one frame comic, “Li’l Trachea: The Funny Passage Way,” reworked the assassin’s declaration with humor.

The cartoon showed Li’l Trachea jumping from the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theater with a pistol in his ligaments and the ever-present hand-rolled cigarette balancing ever so gently on the top of his tube like head.  Li’l Trachea shouts “Let’s Try Something Different!”

Li’l Trachea’s little friend, Liver Boy is about to jump from the box as well and it looks like he will land right on the proud little trachea.  Li’l Trachea wants to try something different but only we, the audience, can anticipate the fun that will follow shortly.

I traveled down that side road of cartoon history, to make a point.  Even within 10 years of the death of a great public leader, the method of his assassination is lampooned as trite.

So what does this have to do with my innovation in Kid’s Magic?

Only this: I believe I have hit upon a formula that works and works independent of the traditional trappings we associate with the Kid Show or Kid Magic.  I believe it takes a certain kind of personality to perform this method but then again, so does any kid magic.  You have to feel comfortable with the children and make them feel that you are safe and you are there to entertain them for exactly 55 minutes pursuant to your written agreement with their mother, father or legal custodian.

Rather than go into the nuts and bolts right now, I thought I would relate to you my experience this weekend as I tried out my new, novel, approach to Kid’s Magic.

At the age of seven, psychologists tell us, children become aware of mortality generally and their own mortality specifically.  Perhaps a relative has passed away or maybe a family pet or close friend.  Regardless of the trigger, the age of seven, is the time to understand that few will make it out of this life alive.

Most Kid Shows ignore this ground-shaking revelation and allow the Birthday Boy or Girl to reflect silently that their birthday also means they are moving irreversibly along the river of life towards their final day.

The kids are terrified but they cannot verbalize their fear.  By pretending all is sugar and donuts, the entertainer is really just reinforcing their fear.  Every breath used to inflate a balloon is one less breath available to the child.  Blowing out the candles on their cake provides only a harsh reminder that, as Buddha said, they too will vanish from life like the flame from the candle — even a birthday candle.

I say, don’t fight these fears.  Exploit them.  Use them to make this the best birthday ever.

That’s where I came up with my concept for Kiddy Séance.  I will get to the marketing opportunities in a second, but imagine this scene.
Continue reading “Guest Article: The Kids’ Show Done New”

Incomprehensible Exposure = Exposure?

There is one thing we stand firmly against here at Inside Magic and that is exposure of magic secrets.  We don't like it, won't eat near it, won't let our kids go to school with it, and certainly would never let it kiss us full on the mouth, ever. Given our distaste for this abominable practice, a casual reader of this magic news outlet might be forgiven for thinking that all of our loathing was used up and that we loved every other thing in large quantities.  Nope, we dislike people who incompetently expose magic almost as much as we dislike the more proficient secret leakers.

There are several programs on the internets that allow a very lazy web master or mistress to publish articles about any topic in seconds.  Better yet, these programs can write the articles to neatly incorporate trending Google search terms to suck traffic to their owners' website to generate the all-important pay-per-click revenue.  The programs are not smart but quick.  They search the webs for real content about any given subject and then steal from the articles located to generate or "spin" an allegedly unique bit of content. 

Fresh content is essential to making one's website appealing to Google.  Fresh content that contains key words used in searches moves the site up the Google Page Rank chart.  But there is apparently no requirement that the fresh content containing key words make any sense at all.

We received a Google Alert this hour for an article meeting our pre-set search terms.  We try to search for magic news constantly and have layers of filters to get breaking stories about "Harry Houdini" rather than a professional athlete surviving a close game with "an escape worthy of Houdini."   The notice we just received met up with several of our Google Alert terms and so the automated sms notification system alerted us to possible breaking news.

Here is the article in part.  It ostensibly exposes the Svengali Deck.  Perhaps it does, we cannot tell.

The Svengali deck is made up of 47 business cards, 23 that are most of duplicate and are also slightly shorter as opposed to 23 which are all distinct and slightly longer. There are actually coin tips, card tips, mind-reading tips, rope tips, all different types of tricks easily together with objects that you’ve in the pockets as well as lying savings around your house. If you need a number of really straightforward magic tricks to master which you can try in your own friends the two observing ones is going to be perfect in your case.

We are not trying to be harsh.  Maybe this is one author's earnest attempt to expose a very commercial trick and it falls short because the author has yet to master the English language.  Or, maybe there is a different Svengali deck — one made with 47 business cards, 23 of which are most of duplicate of something.  We have checked with all of our reliable sources and no one is familiar with a Svengali deck made of business cards that are either most of or not most of duplicate of anything.  Yes, we recall that Burling Hull claimed to have created a deck that was part Mene-Tekel, part Two-Way Forcing and part Brainwave but to the best of knowledge Mr. Hull never released the deck and even if he did, it wouldn't be one of those "really straightforward magic tricks to master which you can try in your own friends the observing ones is going to be perfect in" anyone's case.

Continue reading “Incomprehensible Exposure = Exposure?”

Magic Teaches Important Lessons

Adrian Shepherd writes a very interesting blog at isucceedbook.com.  

It has more substance than many personal growth / success training sites on the interwide webs.  Many appear to be a rehash of someone else's thoughts or posts — often with the same typographical errors.

Mr. Shepherd posted an article yesterday discussing lessons he has received from our favorite art form.  

He had us at the first sentence:

"Wherever I go I nearly always have a deck of playing cards with me. Why?"

It turns out the reason why puts him squarely within the aggregated mindset of the typical magician or magic enthusiast.

"Because a few years ago I spent 2 hours each night practicing magic. The hard work paid off and I became quite good."

He is not currently working as a magician but notes in a post script he is always ready to put on an impromptu show with his ever-ready deck of cards and a mental catalog of favorite tricks.

The key lesson: "it wasn’t the elaborate tricks that amazed most people but some of the easiest.

He makes a credible analogy to sales and professional improvement that is certainly  worthy of a read.  You can check out the article at isucceedbook.com.

 

Comfort Food, Magician Mac King and Candy

Do not miss the hardest working Magician in Vegas, Mac King says
Vinnie Favorito in today’s Las Vegas Sun.

We don’t know Mr. Favorito personally but understand he is a
Las Vegas comedian of substantial renown and a friend of Inside
Magic Favorite Mac King. In addition, as we said just this
morning when discussing a different topic, “any friend of Mac is
a friend of ours.”

We were dining that one of the many magic-themed breakfast
nooks in and about the Greater Area of Mystic Hollow, Michigan.
We forget how the topic came up – but not because we are
fabricating this story out of floss and flotsam. We were
discussing “comfort food” and comparing the merits Kraft’s
American Classic vis-à-vis the many private label brands
of Macaroni and Cheese and coming to agreement amongst all
gathered around the counter that Kraft must have a secret recipe
for delicious Mac and Cheese.

The waitress, Flobee (short for Florence Beatty, hence “Flo
B”) began extolling the substantial comfort one can gain from
carney food like Elephant Ears, Funnel Cakes, and Turkey
Drumsticks. One of the younger magicians made an inappropriate
comment about Corn Dogs providing comfort and the meeting was
adjourned without further discussion.

But it is unlike us to deviate from our topic. Usually we are
like a laser guided missile of messaging reflecting off the
stunned eyes of our readers. So let’s get back to it, shall we.
Sure.
Continue reading “Comfort Food, Magician Mac King and Candy”

Mandrake the Magician Lives on Inside Magic every day of the week!

We love Mandrake the Magician and that’s why we pay monthly to license the strip for Inside Magic.

If you haven’t checked it out recently, this is a good time to start.  We’re about to head off on a new adventure where Mandrake’s powers of deception and perception will be tested.

Sin, Myrrh and Death – Hardy Christmas on the Road

Originally written on Christmas Eve seven years ago and posted on Inside Magic. We’ve republished it by request. Definitely not one of our “light” or “funny” pieces.
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Our father, Li’l Tom Hardy, was a proud man who frequently tried to pretend we were not too poor for Christmas presents.
Usually around December 13th, he’d come stumbling back to the trailer just as we were getting ready to head to the next town and announce,

“You know, I was talking with this Jehovah Witless Guy and he convinced me there is no biblical basis for celebrating Christmas.Now, while I don’t accept everything they those old boys say, ‘specially the no-drinking or smoking stuff, but I started thinking about it and I think they might be right.
I’d hate to see our whole family damned to Hell just to get a present under some pagan tree.”

“You know, I ran into that guy that used to be a ringmaster with Stamster Brothers and he commenced to talking about how Judaism – in its strictest form – really had the whole picture together.

They were waiting for the Messiah and that’s got a lot to say for it. I disagreed with him on the whole no-drinking and dragging out their equivalent of Christmas for a week or whatever, but the idea that we should really anticipate the birth of our Lord is a good thing.

Sooo, I’m thinking we anticipate how he can come into our life without the week of candles and presents.”

Or the worst was:

“You know, I was down at the Stop, Drop and Roll (that’s Circus Talk for a booze tent or trailer – usually just off the parade grounds), and I was walking back and saw this guy with a gun. He was mumbling something about how people demand so much from him and stuff and he was pretty well-bombed. I didn’t want to get too close cuz he was drunk and had a gun but I walked up a little closer and thought he looked like a biker.

Continue reading “Sin, Myrrh and Death – Hardy Christmas on the Road”

Magic Trust and Betrayal

There is a maxim we follow — and we don’t mean the magazine by the same name. Although it is possible that the magazine Maxim actually has written about our maxim. Of course, we would never know. We trusted and apparently our trust was foolishly tossed to the four winds – three of which came from the person we trusted.

In fact, the more we think about that lying little creep, the more we become perturbed. She said she was selling magazine subscriptions for her troop. We’re always looking to help out any scouting activities and while we normally associate cookie sales with troop fund raising, we trusted.

And we gave her good money to go with that trust. We mean we paid for the subscriptions with “real money”; not a charge on one of our almost certainly over-the-limit credit cards or even proceeds from a cash advance or payday (HA!) loan.

Our intention was to use real funds to purchase subscriptions the great journals of our era; and help the local troop raise money for something.

Well, we learned the hard way.

We have not received a single issue from any of the top quality magazines we ordered.

Not one.

We paid over $422.12 for the subscriptions and received nothing. No cards falling out of the pages and cutting one’s lap or landing in the toilet. No poster-size images of the featured models in faraway places with a “come hither” or, in our case, “don’t bother,” or “stay there-ith” look in their eyes.

Yes, we were foolish to trust. We should have been suspicious and cautious. Did we already mention she wasn’t wearing a scout uniform?

Continue reading “Magic Trust and Betrayal”

What Were We Thinking

This is the stream of thought that went along with our writing of an article about a magic lecture from John Luka.

John Luka is the Head Muckety-Muck in our Pantheon of Magicians and so we were shocked to receive his invitation to learn the secrets of a certain magician’s act.

We knew it wasn’t a lecture by the magician in question – after all, what professional magician actually lectures on tricks he or she performs for a living.

We assumed, therefore, John Luka had crossed over to the Dark Side. Out of our respect for Mr. Luka, we immediately prepared to stick with him like glue or something equally sticky but preferably non-organic. We have no pride but at least we’re shiftless.

But wait, we read more of Mr. Luka’s email note to us and learned we were wrong. We were completely wrong. Mr. Luka hadn’t moved to the Dark Side. We wish we had read his entire email message before we reacted so quickly to abandon our principles and publish an expose of every magic trick we know.

To all of our brethren and cistern in magic, we apologize for exposing your secrets. We take some solace in thinking that our excited writing made the whole 982 page book unreadable or at least unwieldy. Plus, when we get nervous we revert to our first language.

Nonetheless, the book All of the Magic Secrets Ever is currently available on Amazon.Com. One reviewer noted:

Continue reading “What Were We Thinking”