Magician Julie Eng on CBC

Magician Julie EngCanadian Magician and Inside Magic Favorite Julie Eng teaches a magic trick that we cannot see.

While there is no evidence this is a result of the recent trade war with Canada, it is nonetheless frustrating as all get out.  According to Twitter, Ms. Eng, a treasure of North America and life-long performer, is part of a new program (or programme for our Canadian readers), called The Science Of Magic on CBC’s “The Nature of Things” show.  In fact, if you visit her well-executed website at www.magicienne.com you can see a link and a tease of the show.  We presume that if one (or more) lives in Canada, that one or ones can see Ms. Eng teach what is described as a simple coin magic trick with which one can mystify one’s friends and family.

Except we can’t because we don’t live in Canada and our antenna won’t pick up the CBC in our part of the high desert.  Our antenna is one of the now defunct Radio Shack’s best –  we’ve got that baby high in the air thanks to a cheap tower we picked up at the annual Burning Man trash and treasure after-fest sell-athon.  So, even with all four wings pointed north and standing 32.5 feet above the sandy desert floor, we can’t get CBC and see the trick or Ms. Eng.

We do get stations from Salt Lake City and Boise but they have very little in the way of magic programming.  In our native Michigan, we could watch the CBC on channel 99 so we could see Hockey Night in Canada and The Big Comfy Couch but not anymore.

Ms. Eng knows magic from her years of training and heritage as a member of a magic family.  (Her father had a magic shop in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada)).  She performs for thousands of private functions, festivals, conventions and special events around the globe – but none apparently in Mystic Hollow, California.  We checked our TV Guide (it came by mail on Thursday) and there was no mention of the CBC listings.  We put a bookmark for the Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune entries for each night of the coming week and sighed.

But Ms. Eng is more than a magician available to millions through the considerable broadcasting power of the CBC.  She is one of the founding organizers of two unique community outreach programs, My Magic Hands and Senior Sorcery.  She took part in Magicana’s productions, a theatrical show, Piff Paff Poof which was designed specifically to introduce the experience of the theatre to young families.

Incidentally, Piff, Paff Poof was our favorite trick featuring diaper pins throughout our career.  We were known world- over for our expert handling of the technically undemanding four-second effect.  We milked it for a full 15-minute bit by having everyone in the audience inspect the pins before and after the trick.  As our career went on, the audience numbers decreased; making the inspection part of the illusion much shorter.

Ms. Eng is frequently seen in the U.S. and beloved by audiences for her energy and innovation.  We’ve seen her perform live and named her an Inside Magic Favorite based on her live performance.  Under new FTC rules, a magic website cannot proclaim a person a “Favorite” or “Our Favorite” based on video, radio description, telegraph communication, shadow puppets or any non-live performance.  We suppose this is in reaction to YouTube’s popularity but we abide by the rules under which we are honored to publish.

So, the bottom line at the end of the day, when it comes down to brass tacks and the real root of things, we like Julie Eng very much and are very frustrated that we cannot see her new episode just because we don’t live in Canada.

[Update]  A reader from Luxemburg – a country that is not in Canada – has written to tell us that one can configure one’s computer to make it appear that one is in Canada and thereby watch programs to be broadcast only in Canada.

While we appreciate the tip, we cannot countenance breaking the FCC laws to see a show – even Ms. Eng’s show.  We become very paranoid when it comes to FCC regulations.  They have vans that drive all around cities looking for people breaking the law.

Our Uncle Taffy (also a magician at one time until his huffing of roughing fluid (he called it “aromatherapy”) rendered him less effective) who used to broadcast golf tournaments with his walkie-talkie, and later a HAM radio set.  The FCC nailed him and almost took away his walkie-talkie and HAM set until they determined neither was powered and he was just talking to himself about an imaginary golf game featuring cartoon characters from the pre-talkie era of Hollywood.  He would have long commentary about Betty Boop going head-to-head with Inky the Clown at Augusta’s famed Amen Corner.  The family thought it was a good habit and kept him off the public buses but the FCC had another view.

Uncle Taffy managed to kick his “aromatherapy” habit and now performs Three Card Monte for friends at his halfway house in Iowa.

We take no chances.

If you are fortunate enough to live in Canada, be sure to watch Ms. Eng tonight on the CBC.  You can tell us about it but don’t send us videotapes (VHS or Betamax) because that seems illegal too and our videotape machine (also from Radio Shack) won’t play tapes anymore because the heads need to be demagnetized and the store no longer sells the demagnetizer cassette.

Magicians are Cognitive Artists

Inside Magic Image of Salvador DaliAt the very same institution where Houdini was fatally punched in the gut, McGill University in Montreal, psychologists and neuroscientists are trying to learn more about their respective fields by studying how magicians fool people.

We read about the investigations into psychology and magic in a recent issue of The Atlantic.

Jay Olson is one of the researchers working on what a recent issue of the journal of The Frontiers of Psychology call “neuromagic.” In an article “The Psychology of Magic, the Magic of Psychology,” Mr. Olson reported on a fascinating study where subjects were shown the same trick over and over until they figured it out.  We now have scientific data to support the maxim that a magician should never perform the same effect twice.

Mr. Olson studied the psychology of forcing.  To his credit, Mr. Olson refused to disclose the secret of the forcing technique he used.  He was able to successfully force a card on a subject 98 percent of the time – and 91 percent of the time, the subject felt the choice was entirely free.  The study authors wrote, that magic “can provide new methods to study the feeling of free will.”

Perhaps more importantly, some curious magicians might hope, the study can teach an effective forcing technique that works 98 percent of the time and leaves nine out of ten participants ready to swear the choice was entirely free.

Again, Mr. Olson refused to disclose his secret method.

We urge you to visit the study’s website to learn more about the work done and the areas of investigation.  It really is a fascinating read.  Like painters are masters of perceptual illusions, the study notes, “magicians are the cognitive artists.”

Check out additional articles in the field here.

Reveen the Impossiblist’s Tradition Continues

Inside Magic Image of Reveen The Next GenerationThe late Peter Reveen, known professionally as Reveen the Impossibilist, passed away in 2013 but his family’s gift to the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre in Newfoundland, Canada.

Mr. Reveen’s last show was on the main stage at the Arts and Culture Centre in 2008 and now on Saturday, his son Ty will carry on in the Impossiblist tradition with a new Reveen show on the same stage.  Mr. Reveen’s 13-year-old grandson Taj was also at the presentation. He says he’s looking forward to taking over the show when his father, Ty, retires.

The family donated Mr. Reveen’s famous bejewelled red tuxedo to the Centre.

Tickets are available for this weekend’s show here.

Check out the Reveen website here.

Lucas Wilson & Kelly Defilla Put the Heart in Magic

Lucas Wilson and Kelly DefillaMagic performers Lucas Wilson and Kelly Defilla are everything we love about our beloved craft.

The duo received a great write-up in The Norfolk News in advance of their shows next Monday at the beautifully appointed Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover, Ontario.

They returned from the bright lights and big city vibe of Las Vegas with a new illusion they cannot wait to share.  “We’re bringing a slice of Las Vegas to Port Dover,” Mr. Wilson told the reporter during rehearsal.

“It’s fun, quick, colourful – illusion after illusion after illusion,” Ms. Defilla offered.

She is the putative assistant but really the key to the show.  She does the heavy lifting behind the scenes, gets cut in half and puts her professional acting background to good use.  After seven years performing together, “we play off each other really well now,” she said. “And I think my acting training really helps with that, because I know how to be animated (on stage) and stay in that world.”

They were separated during the Christmas season last year when Ms. Defilla needed surgery to repair a “toonie-sized hole in her heart.”  A “toonie” is a rather large one-dollar coin.  That’s a big hole.

Ms. Defilla said it felt “weird” to know that the show was going on without her – a classmate from Holy Trinity filled in for her – but she was touched by the outpouring of concern and love their fans sent her way.

They are their own roadies, responsible for the load-in, tear-down and load-out as they tour.  Do they get tired?  Yes, but it is a good kind of tired – a “rewarding exhaustion.”

“One of the things we try to remember is this could be someone’s first magic show. There could be someone who’s about to fall in love with magic because we put 100 per cent in,” Mr. Defilla said.

“You have to put that kind of energy and excitement in, because you don’t want to let anyone down.”

If you are in Ontario, check out their performance next Monday, March 16, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover.  There are a limited number of VIP seats available for each show so act quickly.  You can visit their website to learn more about the couple, their magic and upcoming shows here.

We wish the duo the best of luck and will keep Ms. Defilla in our prayers.

Peter Marucci Lauded by Canadian Press

Inside Magic Image of Peter MarucciMagician Peter Marucci received a great write-up from Canada’s The Wellington Adviser noting his unprecedented second win of the International Brotherhood of Magicians’ Howard Bamman trophy.

He is the only Canadian to win the award and the only magician to win it twice.

The award was given in recognition of Mr. Marucci’s 28-year contribution The Linking Ring.

IBM members know Mr. Marucci from his Showtime column in our organization’s official magazine.  He is a great writer and has been incredibly prolific.

The article provides a nice history of Mr. Marucci and his career in magic and journalism.

Mr. Marucci performed across North America in venues from conventions, trade shows, clubs restaurants, street fairs and festivals.

He even had his own restaurant where he performed for diners.

Congratulations to Mr. Marucci on the great piece and thanks for his wonderful contribution to our art over the years.