Inside Magic Letters to the Editor

Inside Magic Image of a British CricketWe receive letters and emails from readers.  Often we share our responses with other readers.  Sometimes, we just read them and try to find our “happy place” while rocking back and forth and clutching our hair.  Here are some of the most recently received inquiries and our responses.  If you have a question, send it to question@insidemagic.com.  It may get published.

Dear Magic Man, Jr.: How do they do that trick where the ball floats and then vanishes or lights on fire?

Editor: Thank you for your question.  As you may know, we try to avoid exposing the secrets of magic here on Inside Magic.  So we won’t reveal the method but your question did cause us to look into the history of the trick you described so eloquently.

The effect was first found in a rough draft of Professor Hoffman’s Modern Magic under the title “Ball Flying and then on Fire before Vanishing.”  Hoffman got into a hard-fought battle with his publisher over the trick.  The book exposed many of the classic secrets of magic but the publisher was dead-set against exposing this particular illusion.

“Whilst we have no objection to giving away the secret to many tricks that make up the routines of working performers who depend upon secrecy to make a living, we object to lifting the veil on this vaguely described and likely never performed illusion.  It just does not seem, to us, to be in the cricket spirit.”

“Cricket” can be used as a synonym for “fair” or “appropriate” and that sense of the word is derived from the game of the same name played by unfathomable rules over the course of days and reported on the BBC shortwave broadcasts we hear at night due to a misalignment in our jaw and the resultant proximity of two silver filings.

But according to some scholars of a magical bent, the publisher was referring not to the game but insect.

At the time of Professor Hoffman’s writing, cricket fighting (or “Grasshoppering” as it was called on some of the colonial island nations) was all the rage in the British pubs and smaller arenas.  A “sport” similar to cock or dog fighting, the activity brought the bloody battle to those who could not afford the larger animals.  It was considered a more appropriate activity because anyone could find or breed crickets and thus participate.  Charles Darwin observed, “the elite pastime of raising cocks or terriers holds no sway for this man.  Give me a common tettigoniidae and a wager, and I am a happy sailor.” (See Darwin’s Dairies here.)

The Darwin quote points out an interesting twist on the story.  The British “cricket” is actually what we in the United States call a katydid or grasshopper.

In a typical cricket fight, participants would paint the backs of up to five crickets at a time and drop them into the circular arena with the entries of at least two other teams.  The battle would ensue for a period of time tied directly to the relative humidity of the venue.  On a humid night, the fight could be as long as five hours.  On a very dry night, the winners could be declared in five minutes.
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Submit Your News and We’re So Sorry

Inside Magic Image of IT StaffOh boy, is our face red.

We have a “Submit to Inside Magic” button at the top of every page.  It has been there since we first started Inside Magic in the late 1940s.  The country was getting back to work, the big wars were over, neighborhoods were building, cars had big fins and transistors were just a pipe dream.

When the button was first installed, we received a couple of submissions – some were even magic related.  But we haven’t heard much since.

We had our crack IT staff check things out and we learned tonight why they are called “crack” – but that is a different issue – and we learned why we haven’t seen any submissions.  The staff had the submissions routed to an old website we no longer use: PocketFishermanKnock-Offs.com.

We hadn’t checked that site since the cease and desist letters from Ron Popeil’s blood-thirsty lawyers.

We are so sorry.

The server was filled with news releases, story suggestions, fully written essays and interview suggestions.  Some of them were quite good but are now out of date.

If you have a story, a suggestion, a press release, essay or interview suggestion, please resubmit it for consideration by our previously under-worked editorial staff.

If you previously submitted your news and thought we ignored you, please accept our most sincere apologies.  As a small but earnest magic news daily, we cannot afford to alienate a single reader and it was never our intention to give that impression.

Here is to new beginnings!  Click the button above or this link.

Letters to the Editor: Church of Inside Magic®

Inside Magic Image of Kind BenefactorIt is the policy of Inside Magic to publish letters to the editor when necessary to fill gaps in our front page or when required by court order. Letters to the editor should be addressed to, ironically, editor@insidemagic.com. Inside Magic reserves the right to modify, shorten, lengthen or completely change the sent correspondence and, if necessary, include funny pictures to take away from the seriousness of same.

My Lordship:

Greetings in the name of our Lord, I am (Mrs) *** ******, a widow to Late ****, I am 34 years old, I am now a new religious convert … My late husband was killed with his business associate and during the period of our marriage we couldn’t produce any child.

My late husband was very wealthy and after his death, I inherited all his business and wealth. I now decided to divide part of this wealth, to contribute to the development of the church in Asia, Africa, America and Europe.

I selected your church after visiting the website and I prayed over it, I am willing to donate the sum of US$5,000 000.00 (Five Million US Dollars) to your Church for the development of your church and also for the less privileged.

Please, do not reply me if you have the intention of using this fund for personal use. Please If I reach you as I am hopeful I will, endeavor to get back to me as soon as possible to enable my LAWYER conclude the legal duty.

Also to be sent to me is the biodata page of your international passport or drivers licence as a proper identification.

You can reach me on my alternative email box easily: mrs.***@yahoo.com

I await your soonest reply as you could.

Inside Magic’s Reply:

Dear Mrs. *****:

Although we did not know your husband all that well – in fact, we barely remember him from our days in your home community but that is no doubt the regrettable effect of our weeks of hard work and tireless efforts to do noble things in that strange land he called home – we are happy to accept your offer of $5,000,000.00 for our yet to be formed Church. (We will start the forming as soon as your funds arrive, don’t you worry your little head about that).

We certainly agree that the funds should not be used for our personal vanities but dedicated exclusively to The Church of Inside Magic® and its dedicated staff of very pious clergy; with a special emphasis on improving the lives of those who would travel so far to worship at our yet to be built gold and ivory altar.

As you know, The Church of Inside Magic® emphasizes the inner-being and eschews those in this sad epoch who worship the outer, false entities. Consequently, you are no doubt aware we do not permit our clergy or the lay ministry to carry any form of identification including a drivers’ license (or licensce) and certainly would never allow our images to be captured for the purpose of recordation through the alleged “passport” system foisted upon the clueless masses as a means of emphasizing the outer, shell of humanness to the detriment of the inner soul of personness.

We suspect your request that we send our drivers’ license (or licence) and international passport was merely a test to see if we were indeed true to our faith. We were and remain so.
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Don Timoteo Answers Your Magic Questions

Image of a Card Fan and a Woman on Inside Magic[Questions for Don Timoteo – Magic Expert – can be about any aspect of magic including escapes, big stage illusion shows, little tiny close-up magic, and even so-called psychic magic.  Send your question to DT@insidemagic.com and we will pass them along to the Master].

As you know, because of my fame I have worked around the world performing for standing room audiences as well as many theaters where there were chairs for everyone — but just enough.

My expertise in magic is second to none, as you know. And yet I offer this help to you, the questioning mob of pubic magicians. Why? Does Don Timoteo make money doing this?

A little, but not enough to put up with some of the questions I receive or the ridicule thrusted on me like a Watchtower Magazine through the slightly opened door to my inner-most soul.

The other professionals, like that reindeer with the glowing nose, do not like me to be different.  “Oh, Don Timoteo, you should be like us.  You should never reveal the secrets to our art to the common magician.  That is like throwing the baby pig out with its pearl-wearing babysitter!”

Don Timoteo does not care.  He does not hear much of it and that which he hears he does not understand.

So bring your questions to Don Timoteo.  I promise on my honor that so long as you show reverence for my incredible talent, and historic place in history, you will be fine. You will not be faced with the wrath like someone who sticks his face in a pie-throwing booth at the Wrath Festival.

I know many men would like me to tell all of my secrets of love or the conquests my secrets have earned.  But I am first a gentleman and would never reveal the what has been secreted by me and my many lovers.

So, instead, I answer questions about magic.  Love’s magic is a secret I will not reveal.

Senior Timoteo:
What is fanning powder and where can I buy it other than at the magic store? They rip me off there.  Everything is more expensive because they say, “you’re not really buying the props, you’re buying the secret.” So if it’s just powder that helps you fan cards, what’s the secret that I’d pay an extra $5.00 for?
By the way, I loved you on The Flinging Nun with Sally Fields.  Yes, I am that old! I liked her before she was in Forrest Gump or Sybil.
Your Fan, N. Warner Douglas, IA

Don Timoteo Responds:

My friend.  From your first name, Norman, I know you are not Spanish and so the subtle but oh so impotent differences between titles is probably of little meaning to your head.

I am not “Senior Timoteo” but Don Timoteo.  I am thinking you meant to say “Señor Timoteo” but even this would have been wrong and to another man with much less class and noble heritage, it would have been the last words you said.  I am the fifth generation of my family’s royal tradition. I am a Don, of noble birth. My family’s tree is thick and filled with leaves.  It traces back to España and the mystery of the love that clings to the Spanish land like a scared two-year-old clings to his mother’s thick, hairy leg.
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Inside Magic’s Corrections

Inside Magic Image of Writer Disappointed that She Made an Error

When required by court order or circumstances that would somehow improve our stature in the magic community, Inside Magic will issue retractions, corrections and amendments in response to verified complaints by real people who have been offended or injured in some manner by our writing.

The April 1, 2005 "April Fools Edition" of Inside Magic was written as a parody and should not have been taken as literally representing the truth. We assumed most magicians would know it is unsafe to snort fanning powder or make mixed drinks with "magicians' milk." Because of a few kids who were smart enough to sound out the words in that edition but lacked the common sense to not really swallow razor blades, we had to wait until 2012 for the statute of limitations to run and issue this correction.

Despite the apparently real photograph shown in our July 22, 2010 column "Magicians on the Go" we had no evidence the world famous magician pictured was suffering gastric and intestinal distress as the image indicated. We used a trial version of Photoshop to place the magician in a port-a-let with the door apparently blown off by a horrific gas explosion. We thought this was obvious because the magician's hair was still in place in the image and everyone knows he wears a toupee.

Contrary to the thrust of our September 15, 2008 story, "Guess What Disease" the two magicians identified in the article were not suffering any malady and, to the best of our knowledge, are healthy as a horse and a cow respectively. To be fair, we never said they had a specific disease, only that they looked "sick and gross like they swallowed the gross end of decaying pig carcass." That could have been interpreted to mean they looked normal for them or that we were just concerned about their health. To suggest that the story was a method of besmirching their good name is an over-reach.

As far as we know, there is no evidence to suggest Harry Houdini faked his own death to marry a marionette or, for that matter, any type of puppet used by popular entertainers of the day. We were just speculating what he could have done if he wanted to sneak out of his marriage to meet his well-known fetishistic needs. We regret any misunderstanding arising from the August 11, 2011 article, "Houdini Faked His Own Death to Marry a Prop."

In our "Best of Las Vegas" column of December 12, 2004, we inadvertently provided the wrong address for the Magic of Vegas Theatre. Frankly we were surprised it took until last week for anyone to complain about the mix-up and even more surprised that magicians visiting Las Vegas would mistake the establishment at the address given for a theater for performing arts. We also apologize for any part we played in establishing the tradition of appreciative magic fans stuffing dollar bills into the waistbands of close-up performers in Las Vegas and The Magic Castle.

The answer to our 1996 Fourth of July Magic Crossword Puzzle for Clue 22(Down) should have been "bunny." The clue was "what a magician has hidden in his clothing." We regret the error and are frankly troubled by some of the answers proposed by our readers.

Because we did not conduct our own research but printed verbatim the press release we received, the article "Tony Spain Makes Island Nation of Guam Vanish" was incorrect. Guam remained intact and Tony's press release was a total fabrication with no basis in reality. Similarly, the articles, "Tony Spain Cures Warts in New Dinner Show," "Tony Spain Licks Own Elbow," and "Tony Spain Found Not Guilty in Mayonnaise Smuggling Trial" were not properly fact-checked and were all fabrications of Mystic Hollow's own Tony Spain.