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.

Wednesday
Feb222012

AOL... YOU'VE GOT DAVID BLAINE

Thanks to Max Droge, I discovered this AOL video of David Blaine performing an underwater stunt in a Liberty Science Center fish tank and discussing the importance of supporting local museums.

Monday
Feb202012

JOHN GAUGHAN :: BOING BOING

Recent Magic Newswire podcast guest and a man that is simply amazing, John Gaughan finds himself as the subject of a new article on the Tech News aggregation blog Boing Boing.  In the interview with Joshuah Bearman, they begin by discussing the chess playing "automaton" known as The Turk and move on to the story of how an illusion inspired Charles Babbage to create one of the first "thinking magchines."

JB::  And I read that Charles Babbage, who invented the first computer, had seen the Turk and that was part of what inspired him.

JG :: Yup. People then didn’t know it was an illusion. They thought it was a thinking machine. And Babbage thought: “My god, if they can build a machine that plays chess, I should be able to make a machine that that can execute various rational functions.”

So it was later that he built the analytical engine.

JG :: Which was programmed with punch cards. And Jaquard, whose looms were programmed that way, may have also seen the Turk. And that was how computing began.

JB::  It’s crazy that the first thinking machine was inspired by a fake parlor trick version of a thinking machine.

JG :: The Turk seemed like modernity but turned out to be old magic. But in a way magic was modernity. Magic and machines were all bound up together. Most of the master magicians of the nineteenth century were also watch makers. Both require meticulous planning and mechanical ingenuity to build intricate, tiny, things. They would take the latest engineering and apply it to magic. And vice-versa: developing a certain illusion would lead to engineering breakthroughs.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE AT BOING BOING

Thanks to David Storey for telling me about the article. And, in case you missed my chat with John you can listen to it below of subscribe via iTunes:

LISTEN TO MY CHAT WITH JOHN GAUGHAN::





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Friday
Feb172012

MNW #331 :: HATCH & ENGLAND TALK ERDNASE

Was he Milton Franklin Andrews, Wilbur Edgerton Sanders, E.S. Andrews, L'Homme Masque, or S.W. Erdnase? The search for the author of one of the most seminal works on the card manipulation is among the most hotly debated topics in the world of conjuring research. On this episode of the "Spirit of Magic" podcast, I am joined by guest co-host Jason England and special guest Richard Hatch. Richard is widely recognized for his research on the topic of Erdnase and the book "Expert at the Card Table." If you regularly perform close-up magic with cards, then you are certain to have been influenced by this book whether or not you are aware of it. We may just scratch the surface of this fascinating topic in this episode, but it is a fascinating and educational conversation that you need to hear.

LISTEN TO RICHARD HATCH AND JASON ENGLAND DISCUSS THE SEARCH FOR ERDNASE ::





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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 ::





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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.