Archive for the 'Review' Category

Magic at The Ringling Brothers Circus

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

I attended The Ringling Brothers Circus this weekend with a number of my young fans, and was pleased to find that this year they were featuring a magic theme. In accordance with this theme, the ringmaster was an actual magician (possibly David Copperfield, but I had left my glasses in the car), and quite a few excellent large-scale illusions were performed.

Illusions included such circus staples as “the professor’s nightmare about walking on a tightrope,” “turn an elephant into its identical twin brother,” “human cannonball catch,” and the Criss-Angel-fan-pleasing “load a bunch of clowns into a small car and blow it up.” All were competently performed with a minimum of mishaps resulting in injury.

One disappointment I had was that every child who purchased a circus program was given a free magic trick. Normally I would think this was a fine idea, but the gimmick required to perform a Balducci levitation is such an important and commonly used piece of magic apparatus, that I cannot approve of giving it out to children en masse.

Four new reviews

Friday, November 28th, 2008

I am a bit behind on my schedule, but have posted new reviews of Gecko, Frozen, Sleeping Queen, and CastleMaynia.

After purchasing and practicing these effects, I discovered that I could get some very nice audience reaction by putting an entire deck of cards to sleep, instantly building a house out of it, magically turning it into an ice palace, and then making the whole thing disappear in the blink of an eye. Give it a try!

iKnow, iKnow

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Magician Jason Palter’s latest effect, iKnow, is quite an entertaining bit of mentalism. It begins with you allowing a spectator to borrow your iPod and listen to a song. Then you listen to their ear for the sound of the music “echoing about in their brainless head” (as one frequently assaulted street magician put it) and tell them the name of the song they were listening to. If all goes well, the spectator is so impressed that the idea of running away with your iPod instead of returning it never crosses their devious little mind.

I’ve worked on an effect like this myself, on and off, for some time. The biggest drawback, for me, is the fact that they keep telling me I’m voiding my warranty by opening up my iPod and doing a little soldering here and there to see if I can make something magical happen. So it was nice to find an effect like Palter’s that didn’t require all the hardware and expensive experimental short-circuiting.

The only problem I have with iKnow is that people keep looking at the songs on my iPod and pretending that they have never heard of Foreigner, Grand Funk Railroad, or other ever-hot artists. One magician who saw me performing suggested that I should “either update the collection or let folks listen to the music right off your 8-track.” As if I’m going to perform out of my car. Ha!

Mayne Events

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I would like to share with you a few things you might not know about one of my favorite illusionists, Andrew Mayne. Mayne is the creator of such memorable body-deformation effects as Chest Burster, Painful Dislocation, and — as made famous by The Amazing Johnathan — Jump Rope with Your Own Intestines.

Mayne has been performing personal transformations for as long as anyone can remember. One of his first effects involved doubling his own height over the course of only a few years, much to the delight of his parents.

He began performing publicly for large audiences as a teenager, and soon learned that he could perform more frequently — and cut down on his medical expenses — if he found ways of creating the illusion that he was (for example) smashing his own skull with a sledgehammer, rather than performing in a more direct manner. This is what led him to create Skullcrusher, the only published effect in which a magician destroys and restores a spectator’s signed, borrowed head.

Which reminds me, Mayne recently released an effect called Tear Down. At first, I was quite curious to learn what it was all about, in that I assumed (as you likely did) that the effect’s name was a reference to Ronald Regan’s famous suggestion that Gorbachev tear down the Berlin wall.

Well, it turns out that the effect has little to do with walls, politics, or the former Soviet Union. Instead, it is a torn-and-restored newspaper effect that can be performed with a borrowed, signed newspaper, regardless of what language it’s written in or how much more it focuses on Britney Spears than world hunger.

This is quite an evolutionary effect. I am in a position to know, in that I used to perform a similar bit of prestidigitation back in the day. I’d borrow a sheet of newspaper from a member of the audience (they were always reading the newspaper during my act), have another member of the audience sign their name in big letters across it, and then proceed to carefully, openly, and visibly tear it into tiny pieces before their very eyes.

Mayne’s effect takes this a step further by actually restoring the newspaper after all that tearing is done, and I have to admit that it is a big improvement over my old method. It makes me wonder if a restoration phase might have improved other segments of my act, such as when I would borrow a spectator’s watch and smash it with a hammer.

I’ll have to give that a try.

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