Tag: Mystic Hollow

Inside Magic Moves to Hollywood, Sees Pop Haydn, Doc Eason & Lindsay Benner

Lindsay Benner 2The move from sleepy Mystic Hollow, Michigan to Hollywood, California has been an adventure. The final two land-sea containers arrived early this morning and the crew worked through the night to get most of our props and sets delivered to a warehouse just a block from our new digs.  It looks like most of the equipment made it without damage although some of the animals were a bit bedraggled and those family members (and crew) that elected to travel the sea route in the containers probably now regret their decision.  They had hope of seeing the majestic Mississippi River and the Panama Canal from their makeshift bunks in the nicer of the two 53-foot containers.  We learned too late into the trip that the containers have no windows and are locked from the outside.

Hollywood reminds us of Mystic Hollow in so many ways.  People are very friendly, there is an appreciation for magic and it is hilly.

Unlike Mystic Hollow, Hollywood is always sunny and bright and people are out-of-doors walking and running and smiling in the sun (with appropriate levels of sunblock we hope).  We have taken to eating sushi often and while it was initially expensive, we found a cheaper method of getting our fresh fish fix.  We found a store called, “Hollywood Fish and Tackle.”  Great deals can be found and while the chefs are not out front and it is more of a take-out place, it offers great deals on great food.

Everyone here in Hollywood drinks water.  It is a strange thing to see how much water people drink.  They carry water with them at all times.  We have become paranoid about our lack of water drinking and while Diet Coke provides water – it is the first ingredient according to our close inspection of the can – it apparently is déclassé in this milieu.  We are rebels and will fight the cause of Diet Coke until they pry our shaking, jaundiced and likely dehydrated paws from our last can.

Coming to Hollywood means coming to the mecca of our art, The Magic Castle.  We are in the process of applying to be a magician member of the august body and whilst we wait, Pop Haydn has been very kind to extend us invitations to visit.

Pop Haydn should be given the Nobel Prize for Magic.  We had a chance to see his show at two of his completely packed shows in the W.C. Fields Bar downstairs in the Castle.  He does things that cannot be explained or effectively stolen.  We should know, we tried to do both.  His persona is so engaging and his skills make him the Michael Jordan of Magic – except he has more hair and is nicer to his fans.  He performed palming moves that we would not even consider trying on stage in a darkened theater without an audience.  Yet, he gracefully handled the deck and did the impossible within 18 inches of a very observant crowd.

Plus, he works the room so well.

So, he is like a Nobel Prize Laureate mixed with an incredible basketball player who has the skills of a brilliant (but sincere) politician.

Speaking of the W.C. Fields Bar, we got to see Doc Eason again.  Doc has been a fine supporter of Inside Magic over the last forty years and has continued to make magic seem magic even to magicians.  As many loyal readers (and even the few disloyal ones) know, Doc Eason is the Top Magic Bartender on this side of the equator.  It could be that he owns that title south of the globe’s midsection but we haven’t gone to any magic bars there yet.  His magic is impossible and seems spontaneous.  He gives the impression that every crowd is getting a special show – designed just to meet them where they sit.  We watched him three times in one evening (in Mystic Hollow we call that stalking) and he consistently worked the same wonderful routine, playing with everything the audience gave and ended strong and humble.  A true master.  He was kind enough to act as if he remembered us from our prior meetings back in Michigan; that shows he is a good guy.

Speaking of cute and endearing; we eat up cute.  If we were in Japan, we would cute overload and likely pop with a satisfied Hello Kitty sigh.  But we almost never see cute at The Magic Castle.  There is beautiful and amazing and grand, but very little cute.  But we saw cute of the best possible kind there the other night when Lindsay Benner took the stage at the Palace of Mystery.  While Ms. Benner does not perform magic per se, she is magical in her handling of the audience during her silent juggling routine.

Ms. Benner has combined great juggling skills with an adorable persona and tremendous stage presence to make one of the most enchanting shows we have seen in a while.  She introduced her act with an oversized text called “The Book of Love.”  She invited a very fortunate male volunteer to join her on stage and performed incredible juggling around and near that man.  She worked the room without a word and received a standing ovation from the sometimes jaded magic crowd.  If we ever wanted to have someone juggle sharp things by our head, she would be the one to do it.  You can read a nice article about her in the New York Times here.

Hollywood is Inside Magic’s new home.  Our temporary office – adjacent to a store that sells only specialized food for dogs – is still packed with crates and boxes that need to be handled.  While we do that, we will keep you apprised of all the goings-on.

Hugh Jackman Will Be Houdini in 2013

Inside Magic Image of  Wonderful Poster Promoting Harry Houdini's Incredible Milk Can Escape - Failure Means a Drowning DeathWe know Broadway like the back of our prosthetic hand.

We still have our two real ones but like having the third for status.  We are so cool when we go to the manicurist shop and all the gals with their lousy one or two soak dish set-ups have to stare with envy.

We used to have a little (and we mean little) shop right in front of one of the big-time theaters.  This was a while ago and the theater went by a different name and we cannot print the name or our website will be thrown out of public libraries, again.  

Our shop was designed to look like a card table with a Navajo blanket covering the top.  We sold us some Cups and Balls, Ball in Vase, Multiplying Billiard Balls, Magic 8-Balls, Bounce/No-Bounce Balls and our knock-off version of the spring and fake fur puppet, Rocky Raccoon.  At the time, the real ones were selling for $17.00 over at Tannens.  We cut out the middle-man, the man who enforced the child labor laws and the “you don’t need to go through Customs” man; but we could not eliminate the “It would be a shame if something were to happen to your cute little store or cute little wife” man.

Broadway was a tough place where guys like us would walk the mean streets with our pants weighed down by coins in our pockets.  All the sales people on the Great White Way jingled.  There was almost no paper money on Broadway then.  The Automat served meals and hot coffee but only if you had exact change.  The restrooms in the nicer establishments cost a dime or a quarter.  Showers were half a dollar and all of the better movie theaters charged per three minutes per $1.00 in coins.  You could always tell a fellow salesperson by the tension on his or her belt, the bumpy, dimpled bulges projecting like a topographical map over their pants legs, and the bar of Ivory Soap in their back pocket. 

Ivory Soap was started right on Broadway and they never forgot their roots.  They went from selling cheap turquoise or silver plated jewelry to becoming one of the largest companies in the world.  If you were from the Broadway Sidewalk Sales Society, you could walk into any store – it didn’t have to be on Broadway – and pick-up one bar of Ivory Soap per month.  Most of the times no one even noticed or cared.  They likely knew about Mr. Ivory’s promise to his fellow merchants and were happy to see his wishes fulfilled.  Sometimes you’d get a new clerk or cashier and we’d have to go through the whole story.  They usually gave in about an hour into our spiel and we’d  walk out cleaner.

Rumor had it that there were folks on the south side of Broadway that worked with their version of the Ivory Soap man.  He was the person who invented orange juice and they could go into any store that sold orange juice (fresh-squeezed only – we guess he didn’t invent the concentrated version) and take one gallon a month. 

So the north side merchants smelled good and the south side guys smelled bad but didn’t have scurvy.  Life is all about trade-offs, though.

Our point was that we cannot wait until Hugh Jackman takes on the role of our hero.  In fact we named other people’s children “Harry” and “Houdini” and “Bess” when we were employed for a week as a temp at the Mystic Hospital for Women and Childrens.  (Yes, we know the “s” is grammatically incorrect and there is not even a word with that spelling but the benefactor of the MHWC was a self-taught Polaroid Land Camera repairman.  He knew everything about every version of that famous camera from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.  He could fix your camera as good as new in no time but he was otherwise unintelligent.  He couldn’t count (except to 60 – the number of seconds to wait before exposing pictures taken with the first film stock) he chewed with his mouth open, he sewed his own clothes – while they were on – and they remained in place for years as a consequence.  Jimmy knew those dang cameras though.  He would lose all the money he made on one repair job when the next customer would get him confused about the amount of change he was owed.  Poor guy.

Even though he was destitute for most of his life, he loved what he did and folks in town loved to have him roam the streets looking for Polaroid Land Cameras in need of repair.  People wonder how he could afford to fund Mystic Hollow Michigan’s largest building and most important medical service when he rarely had a dollar in his usually securely sewed pocket.  Apparently, one of the big celebrities heard of Jimmy’s abilities and brought his camera for repair while he was performing in Chicago.  He couldn’t stay for the hour or so it would take to repair so he asked Jimmy to send it to the Schubert Theater in Chicago when it was ready.

Jimmy was surprised to find two photos stuck in the mechanism.  He wasn’t sure if he should look at the pictures to make sure they weren’t ruined from their cramped position inside the camera for years.  He decided he wouldn’t look because he thought that would invade the celebrity’s personal life.  Instead, he caught a series of trains to the Schubert Theater and tried to drop the pictures off at the box office.  They wouldn’t take them and they directed him to the stage door outside and down the alley.  It was raining pretty heavy and Jimmy put the pictures in his tattered but well-sewn pants.  His pockets were completely sealed from years of stitching practice and probably of the natural glue we all produce through our skin pores if we don’t change clothes or bathe properly. 

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Wolf’s Magic Releases Chompers!

Inside Magic Image of Wolf's Magic's New Effect Chompers!Editor’s Note: Mark Panner is a young magician known to long-time readers of Inside Magic for his rather unvarnished take on our art.

He begged to include an article in today’s edition and because we need to attend a probation hearing (not our own), we agreed.

Although the following sounds like an advertisement for Wolf’s Magic, we can assure you Inside Magic has not received any promotional consideration or money for the following embarrassing paeon to Wolf’s Magic.

By the way, we agree with his high estimation of Wolf’s Magic.  They do make wonderful equipment.  This review, however, may be over the top in the same way The Titanic may have had a short delay in the mid-Atlantic.

Mr. Panner can be reached by email: mark@insidemagic.com.

I own many of the items developed and built with loving care by Chance and Shelly Wolf of Wolf Magic.

Because I am incredibly wealthy, I could buy virtually any magical effect from anyone at anytime but I choose to purchase from Wolf Magic because it makes me unique — in a good sense.

There are about five magicians per household in the greater Mystic Hollow, Michigan area.  That’s great for magic club meetings or for sessioning, but lousy for booking shows.

Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, I am so wealthy that I hardly depend on the income I get from performing for birthday parties, school assemblies, or even public libraries during the summer months.  In fact, the money made from Three-Card Monte runs at the local elementary school is literally just pennies (sometimes dimes but mostly pennies) compared to my personal wealth.

But, assume for a second that I wasn’t filthy rich or both.  Assume, just for fun, that my ability to eat and to cover the rent on this double-wide as well as the monthly utility bills here at the practically gated mobile home community of Mystic Hollow Acres / Yogi Bear Campgrounds depended on finding shows to perform.

Well, my third set of foster parents didn’t raise no dummy.
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Magician Liu Chien in Vegas for Two Shows

Inside Magic Image of Liu Chien and Report on His US American Debut at the Wynn Casino in Las VegasWe feel like we know Liu Chien from our magic marathon sessions watching our fellow artists on YouTube. He probably does not know us, though. It is funny how you feel you know someone because you see them on television or YouTube but when you finally meet them, they stare blankly at you without a hint of recognition. As we wrote in that essay we had to hand into the judge, “we must remember, seeing them is not the same thing as them seeing you.”

There are days when we will actually stop playing Trisk™ to open our laptop and watch YouTube magicians.  Some are good, most are not.  Liu Chien is one of the very good ones.

As we have admitted on these pages before and have thusly testified before certain international tribunals that the United States may or may not recognize as having jurisdiction over its putative citizens, we do not speak Chinese.

It is not that we speak it sort of good but our syntax is not the best.  We know about three things in Chinese and one of them is actually Vietnamese but is apparently a comment that is accepted with the same meaning in China, Japan and South Korea.  And even then, we can say it (but we wouldn’t if there there is a chance that anyone from the Asian Rim is within earshot) but we have no idea how to write it.

Trisk™, by the way, is a favorite winter game here in Mystic Hollow.  It is essentially Risk® but instead of conquering armies taking over the world in long drawn-out fashion and endless turn-taking; you have a small cadre of well-connected magicians who have access to armies they can summon to do their conquering if necessary.  Some have suggested it is the strategy game Risk® but with fewer pieces and twenty or so pewter top hats taken from Monopoly® sets.

They’re probably right.  While we don’t know the game’s origins, it has been an essential part of our lives since we were Little Shavers.

Thanks to do-gooders and socially aware voting blocks, Mystic Hollow no longer permits children under the age of seven to shave with a straight-razor or any disposable shaving system.  As a consequence, the next generation of young magicians growing up in this hamlet of magic will not learn Trisk™ or Risk®.  Their parents won’t have a need to distract their curious attention and less coordinated hands away from sharp blades and mature smelling shaving cream.

Some blame our close proximity to the Straight-Razor Capital of the World, New Finito, Michigan.  Kids start out as unofficial “Little Shavers” even before they attend pre-school and get their first box of second blades.  Most of the blades are dull — quality control at the factory usually culls the bad blades before they get to the sharpening section — but kids can still find a way to carelessly handle the products and someone always ends up getting hurt.

There are few in Mystic Hollow without a good scar or two on their hands, upper thighs, or cheeks (of their face).  Your first scar is a rite of passage; and if not properly handled can require Last Rites.  “What does not kill us makes us less attractive,” is the unofficial motto.

We suppose this quirk is similar to other towns adjacent to some factory or service center.  The young magicians of Deerfield, Illinois take tremendous pride in their first episode of hypoglycemic shock fostered by the cubic yards of Sara Lee Bakery Seconds and Rejects.

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Terry Evanswood Finds Permanent Home in Tennessee

So, you know how it is, how it goes, and all that stuff. And then you miss the chance to see something really amazing and you are reminded of your failure everywhere and all the time.

We missed out on the chance to see Terry Evanswood and his highly touted Wonders of Magic show at Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We wanted to see it. We planned to see it and even Google Mapped it. But our rig had problems as we left Kentucky and it didn’t get any better as we moved into the mountains heading south.

We were driving the big semi through Tennesee on our way to Florida for what turned out to be a month-long engagement in Orlando and the better part of the week in West Palm Beach.

We could have made Pigeon Forge only by driving it hard. We’d have to be averaging 60 mph for the next few hours and hope for no traffic. The mountains made it impossible to keep anywhere near 60 or even 50. The traffic did not help much either.

Our Kenworth’s nose crossed the Pigeon Forge city line exactly when Terry Evanswood was likely taking his final bows in the final show of the day.

For the rest of our time in Florida and along our trip back to Mystic Hollow, Michigan, we saw constant reminders of our poor timing and horrible luck.

Tonight, we read news of Terry Evanswood’s success at Wonder Works.

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Prison Was Too Good for Her – Our Take on the Tony Spain Fracas

Inside Magic Image of Favorite Melvin the Magician

Inside Magic’s home base is and has always been in beautiful Mystic Hollow, Michigan.

We are stone’s throw from several other hubs of performing arts, including Puppeton, Michigan (home of the Hand Puppet Capital of the World); Nodrop, Indiana (Home of the Ball Juggling Mecca); Meltmouth, Massachusetts (Fire Eating’s Home on this big blue marble); Bisect, Arizona (the Razor High Wire practitioners’ gathering spot); and Mushgrin, Iowa (The Royal Order of Her Majesty’s Mouth Catchers of Croquet Balls built the first non-UK facility there).

We are not on the payroll of any town mentioned. Indeed, there are some in each of the above hamlets who would prefer their special gathering place remain secret and thereby more special. Each of the towns offer a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet our fellow (and the feminine form of “fellow,” fella) performers in a non-threatening setting.

In modern society, it is considered gauche for one’s breath to smell of paraffin, in Meltmouth it is expected. “It is a strange character indeed,” wrote Chris Flagler in a 1937 edition of The Meltmouth Daily Telegraph, “to encounter a citizen of this town who sports not a single blister on their lips or tongue.” There are few brave enough to brush one’s teeth with anything other than a regulation toothbrush. In Mushgrin, Iowa, you will likely not find a single such dental tool in any shop up and down the High Road. In Mushgrin, most people use a cloth towel imbued with hydrogen peroxide to cleanse their crumpet hole.

So too is Mystic Hollow, Michigan. It is expected that everything will be something other than what it appears to be. A hat is not a hat but a home to birds, bunnies, or a bountiful bonanza of bandanas and bemusement. A coin on the floor will likely stay there because it is attached with a hidden nail; the police do not use handcuffs to restrain evil-doers (alleged) but a special elixir of Magician’s Wax and Velcro attached to the almost always oversized eyebrows of the malicious magi.

So what is our point?

We cannot judge others based on our own perception of what is normal.

Continue reading “Prison Was Too Good for Her – Our Take on the Tony Spain Fracas”