Recent Stories:
Wonder Thunder

Episode #1 : Why saw a woman in half? What is the connection between a deck of cards & the calendar. Remote card location.

Episode #2: Espionage, jealousy & murder among magicians. Adam calls his arch nemesis Richard Vegas.

Episode #3:The first aircraft pilot down under was a magician and a live random number challenge via phone.

Episode #4: Bar stunts, Alice Cooper as a magician and magic used in pop concerts.

Thursday
Feb162012

AMAZING JOHNATHAN INVOLVED IN CAR ACCIDENT

UPDATE (02/17/12): I just got off of the phone with Anastasia. Somehow, she hit the windshield and the dash but walked away with nothing more than a fat lip. Johnathan is home now, but against Doctors orders. He was having trouble breathing and had to be intubated. They are taking a few weeks off to recover but expect to be back at it soon. Oh, and no, it wasn't the Mustang... It was the '67 Camaro which is totaled.

Initial Report (02/16/12): I received several emails asking if I had heard anything about the Amazing Johnathan being involved in a auto accident. After a call to Adam, I confirmed that this was unfortunately true. Several people planning to attend his show were told that the performance had been canceled because he had been injured in an accident while on the way to the theater. Apparently, Jonathan and his girlfriend Anastasia Synn were approximately three miles from his home when they were hit head on. Anastasia has since been released from the hospital with "bumps & bruises" while Jonathan's injuries are slightly more serious. He is expected to be in the hospital for several days while doctors evaluate the full extent of his injuries. Obviously, we wish both of them nothing but the best and a rapid recovery. More info will be posted as I receive it.


Jonathan was last a guest on my podcast in 2008 for our Halloween special. In case you missed it, you can listen below.


LISTEN TO THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN ON THE MAGIC NEWSWIRE: ::






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Wednesday
Feb152012

IS THE MILITARY LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MAGICIANS?

Thanks to an article from the WIRED.com Danger Room blog, we have learned of a four million dollar project which hopes to "demonstrate and assess the operational effectiveness of advanced human-deceptive technologies on military ground, sea, and airborne systems."  

What? Magic on the battlefield? Who'd have thought!

If this all sounds a little outside the military norm, it shouldn’t. Magicians and generals have had a long-standing relationship — one that produced very real effects during wartime. Harry Houdini snooped on the German and the Russian militaries for Scotland Yard. English illusionist Jasper Maskelyne is reported to have created dummy submarines and fake tanks to distract Rommel’s army during World War II; some reports even credit him with employing flashing lights to “hide” the Suez Canal. At the height of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency paid $3,000 to renowned magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment and stagecraft. It was republished in 2009 as “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.”

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

Tuesday
Feb142012

PENN JILLETTE TALKS CELEBRITY APPRENTICE

Caroline Fontein of Vegas.com recently spoke with Penn Jillette about his role on the new season of Celebrity Apprentice. Along with discussing his experience on the show, he also explains why he thinks that he has been so successful as a magician in Vegas.

“I really believe that the reason is not having your goal be success. The people that I’ve seen with the worst shows are the people who most wanted to obtain a goal. All that self help jive, all that ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ jive that says, ‘We’re going to do it, we’re just going to get it done. I’m a perfectionist, I don’t take no for an answer, and when I get my eye on something I do it.’ It turns out s**t. It turns out empty, vapid, moral-less, groundless complete unwatchable s**t.”

“What you’ve got to do is love the actual work and love the actual show. The number of people that say I want to have a show in Vegas and never mention what they want that show to be, that is the definition of suck. I don’t give a f**k about being in Vegas. I don’t give a f**k about being on Broadway. I want to do the show we’re doing, and I want to do it with Teller.”

“The fact is that you just can’t f***ing lie to people. They know, they really do know whether you just want to get your f***ing fat ass on TV or if you really have something in your heart that you need to say.”

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

Sunday
Feb122012

IS THE INTERNET KILLING MAGIC?

Salon.com presents a lengthy examination of the impact of the internet upon the state of magic today and discusses the topic with Jamy Ian Swiss. In the article, Jamy is quoted saying:

“Magic has always depended on the control of information,” Swiss told me in an interview. “When I was young, you had to hang around a magic shop, and learn to ask, and ask politely. You would approach a guy and he would tell you, ‘Well, show me what you are working on, kid,’ and you’d show him. And then he might say, ‘Let me help you out with that,’ or ‘Let me show you something different than what you asked.’

“The biggest problem with DVD and YouTube exposure is that it has damaged the skill of learning through asking, and it has created the mistaken assumption, perhaps, that all knowledge and all wisdom is available to buy,” he said. “And there’s so much difference between those two acts, because asking involves a human experience, while buying is just sitting in your coach and passively absorbing countless secrets that you think constitute magic.”

Others cited in the article include David Roth, Harrison Greenbaum, Acar Altinsel and Eric DeCamps.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

In January of 2010, Jamy joined us for an early episode of our magic roundtable, "This Week in Magic" in which he also touched on this topic. In case you missed it, you can listen to it here:

LISTEN TO OUR 2010 CONVERSATION WITH JAMY IAN SWISS ::


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LISTEN TO PT 1 OF MY 2008 INTERVIEW WITH JAMY ::




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LISTEN TO PT 2 OF MY 2008 INTERVIEW JAMY ::






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Sunday
Feb122012

SETH GRABEL OPENS AT A NEW VEGAS VENUE

Thanks to Mike Weatherford and an article that he produced for the Las Vegas Review Journal, we learn that magician Seth Grabel is opening show at a new, 110-seat theater, the "Royal House Showroom," in Las Vegas at the Royal Resort. 

Seth is quoted in the article where he discusses the rewards and challenges of performing in such an intimate setting.

"It's like an obstacle course onstage," Grabel says of his new roost. Still, he manages to pull off two illusions that require props and uses the rest of the time to play to the room's strengths by bantering with the audience. "It's nice to have the intimacy and do the close-up stuff."

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

Friday
Feb102012

MNW #330 :: THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON

Well, it is finally here. The 2011 wrap-up show for the Spirit of Magic & The Magic Newswire. Because of various and sundry technical issues, I wasn't sure that this show would ever see the light of day. It may be 30 days late, but I am still happy to present this chat with Johnny Thompson, John Calvert, Marco Tempest Paul Gertner, David Kaye, Richard Hatch, Jim Steinmeyer, Chase Goforth, Scott Wells, Cameron Ramsay and many others all gathering to ring in the Year of the Dragon. From everyone involved in the Magic Newswire and these podcasts, I wish you a prosperous and happy new year! .

 

LISTEN TO THE 2011 WRAP UP SHOW ::





OTHER WAYS TO LISTEN:

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Sunday
Jan292012

HUGO'S MAKING & INSPIRATION ON CBS

The Automata that inspired the book that led to the Oscar nominated film "Hugo" was featured in a segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show today as was the "Making of Hugo : Scorse's first family film" and I have linked them here for your enjoyment. BTW.. if you have yet to see this movie, do so asap! It is fantastic! If you are interested in far more information on Automata that is linked to here, I highly recommend the Automaton Blog of Dug North which I have just discovered after reading a post from the Genii Forums.





In addition, here is more info on the Franklin Institue display of the Maillardet writing automata and two videos of it in action from their YouTube Channel:





It also seems that the film has inspired everyone in the watch making community to dig out their ancient automata. WatchPress.com is reporting on yet another writing automata to be exhibited by Jaquet Droz. Our Readers may also be interested in the exhibit at the Morris Museum in New Jersey which was also mentioned in the segment and which features numerous other automata from the collection of Murtogh D. Guinness.
Friday
Jan272012

JONATHAN PENDRAGON AND THE SEARCH FOR THE GRAIL :: PART 10

Renaissance

In an earlier column, I mentioned the Vitruvian Man (the man in the square circle—the da Vinci drawing, not the trick). When I was in the third grade, my mother showed me a book of Renaissance art work, including this piece. I asked my mother who the artist was, and she told me “he was a Renaissance man, a man skilled at both art and science.” As it would happen, the very next week we had “Career Day”... in the third grade. For those who remember, this is the day when the teacher asks you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Since this was the height of the Mercury Project, most of the boys said “astronaut.” There were also the assorted doctors, lawyers, firemen, etc. Since my real name begins with a “Y,” alphabetically I was the last to be asked. I promptly answered, “I want to be a Renaissance Man!” My teacher gave me a look, which could only be described as “Oh yeah, you little smart ass?”... though her actual words were “Tell us about it.” Which I did.

Several weeks later came Parent’s Night. When my teacher was introduced to my mother, she ratted me out. My mother responded, “That sounds like him. His greatest desire is parity with the universe.” I love my mother.

I have always been driven by my passions—not to live life, but rather to consume it. I never did anything with half a heart. You can pay an awful price for this approach, but the one price you’ll never pay is regret for things left untried. 

Once upon a time, I defined a “Renaissance” individual as one with a wide range of accomplishments. This I achieved. But in the rebuilding of my life, I’ve experienced a different form of Renaissance: a rebirth. And the catalyst for this rebirth was the Magic Castle. 

As circumstance would have it, the Castle, too, is in the process of rebirth. The “inferno” that nearly took her away from us has, instead, opened the door to great possibilities. It is my hope to return the favor in kind. This is why I am running for the Board of Trustees. I watched as those around me gave their all in rebuilding the physical walls—the material existence. I hope to help rebuild its soul, as I repair my own.

I have been a member for nearly 40 years, and have performed in every single room. I was there when Vernon and Charlie Miller held court nightly. Senator Crandal observed me with a wary eye... as he did everyone. Bill Larsen became a dear friend, and inspiration. This is where I learned my craft. I am a true child of the Magic Castle.

I love good magic. As I mentioned before, I find thoughtless magic painful. It is important to me that the next generation of magicians—stage, close-up, and parlor—have the same opportunities for learning and growth that I had. No one can replace Vernon—and I am not arrogant enough to think I can—but what I can offer is four decades of experience as a professional magician who traveled the world, and did his best to make his magic better. 

Monday
Jan232012

MNW #329 :: BILL GOODWIN

THE JENNINGS AUCTION AT POTTER & POTTER

Magic Castle librarian Bill Goodwin joins me on this edition of this podcast to tell us a bit about what has been happening at the Magic Castle since the fire and to talk about his friend Larry Jennings. Larry is widely recognized as one of Dai Vernon's greatest students and is known for developing some of the most difficult, yet rewarding effects with a deck of cards. On January 28th, Potter & Potter Auctions will be curating the sale of Jennings collection which contains Erdnasia, Vernon Memorbilia, books and much, much more.


LISTEN TO MY CHAT WITH BILL GOODWIN ::





OTHER WAYS TO LISTEN:

RSS :: GET IT AT ITUNES :: ZUNE :: MP3 DOWNLOAD

HTML 5 PLAYER ::

Sunday
Jan222012

CHRIS KENNER TRIBUTE VIDEO

At The Session 2012, Chris Kenner was presented with a well deserved Lifetime achievement award. This is tribute video which was played at the ceremony. Congratulations Chris!