Tag: Bob Cassidy

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.

Magicians Teach How to Figure Out Tricks

Some stories about magicians helping the police or military detect trickery seem fluffy and lame.  We came across an article in the Boston Globe’s The Braniac column yesterday that defied those labels.  It had substance often lacking in the publicity pieces generated by magicians in need of a headline fix.  The article “Magicians and the Military” is actually a reflection on a New Yorker piece on magician / pickpocket Apollo Robbins work with our counterdeception troops.

First of all, we didn’t know there was such a word as “counterdeception” or that we had “troops” who worked in this area.  But, despite the warning signs, we are willing to accept for the sake of argument that there exists such a discipline and specialists within said field. But let us take a second and analyze this new word.  Deception is the art of deceiving, tricking or lying.  Counter means to work opposite to or in conflict with.  So counterdeception would be a method to act contrary to a lie or a trick.  Some would call that “observing” or “understanding” but likely not “counterdeception.”  If the wordcrafters intended to coin a term for seeing past a deception or a lie or understanding how a trick is performed, they may have chosen a term like cynic or insightful or not easily fooled.

We are rarely consulted on the coining of new words these days.  We attribute this to the natural jealousy that develops within any profession — including word maker-uppers.  (How ironic that they haven’t adopted our term for the skill, wordcrafters?  Just further evidence of petty jealousy from the ivy towered, academics who think they own vocabulary.)  We came up with the term “baggage handler” in 1974 and offered it at the annual international symposium on new word combinations held that year in Martinique.  We intended for the term to define porters or service people responsible for loading luggage on planes, trains or buses.

Our term survived the first five rounds of consideration before being shot down by psychologists who worried the colloquial use of the term “baggage” could bring their profession within the term’s definition.  “Baggage” was also used to describe “superfluous or burdensome practices, regulations, ideas, or traits” — things often “handled” by therapists or psychologists in the course of their treatment.  We appealed the last-minute veto to the “bigger committee board” (they really needed to work on their own terms first, we think) but lost on a close vote.  As it turns out, “baggage handler” became an accepted, gender-neutral term adopted by those who care for luggage and so we won the ultimate battle.  The academics never forgave our impertinence and have boxed us out consistently over the years.  We are prohibited from attending their symposia or playing their reindeer-inspired games.

But we digress.  The point of the Boston Globe article and to some extent the New Yorker profile of Mr. Robbins, was that magicians can teach lay-folks how to analyze events or visual demonstrations to detect deception. Continue reading “Magicians Teach How to Figure Out Tricks”