Mandrake the Magician

IBM Announces Credit Card for Magicians

magicians credit card

This just in from the IBM Press Office:

The International Brotherhood of Magicians credit card has its own Visa rewards cards with double the points for brand-name magic equipment and events.

The Brotherhood’s Visa Credit Card offers new account holders 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (3% balance transfer fee applies) for the first 6 billing cycles.

the International Brotherhood of Magicians Rewards Visa Card was created just to help support the Endowment and Development Fund.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • 0% introductory rate on balance transfers for six months
  • No annual fee
  • You earn one point for every dollar spent on everyday shopping and double points on select I.B.M. purchases like Regalia and Membership Fees
  • World Class rewards program
  • Visa Worldwide acceptance

Arthur Trace and Lisa Cousins at the Castle this Week

Inside Magic Favorite Arthur TraceLisa Cousins and Arthur Trace are appearing side-by-side this week at the Magic Castle.

Ms. Cousins, who with Bill Goodwin manages the gem of the Magic Castle – the William W. Larsen. Memorial Library, will be performing in the Parlor of Mystery presenting magic from history. We are looking forward to learning more about what amused, baffled and entertained audiences at the time of Teddy Roosevelt.

Right next door, Inside Magic Favorite Mr. Trace will bring his incredible combination of great manipulative skill and perfect stage presence to what we predict will be completely full houses.

Speaking of which, one of the best things about the Magic Castle is that it constantly attracts so many non-magicians every night of the week. But the downside of such popularity is that seats fill quickly. We are accustomed to giving up our seat if a non-member is waiting. We assume there will be another opportunity to see the performer during one of our later visits in the week. For the non-magician guest, however, this may be their first or only visit.

Last week, we started to doubt our chivalrous approach. We missed out on Bob Cassidy twice – but ultimately saw him on our last try. He was fantastic – as expected. Mr. Cassidy is truly a master of his craft and we are thankful on behalf of all society that he chose to use his powers for good and not evil.

As a student of his DVDs, books (both ebooks and old-fashioned paper and ink) and commercial effects, we are familiar with his methods. And yet, even though he performed an effect he teaches on Mental Miracles, we were still blown away. That is to say, we knew what he was going to do, how he was going to do it and what he did but were still amazed. We didn’t see him do “it” or, for that matter, anything at all.

He is, as they say, really good.

Perhaps he really has special powers and has published the “secrets” to his tricks to distract from his special abilities?

Is that delusional?

We normally do not go in for conspiracy theories unless they involve movie stars or intricate secret societies with cool handshakes and funny hats populated by people who may or may not be in charge of the “real” government.

We also are reluctant to discount any conspiracy theories related to “reality stars” Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashians – there does not seem to be any other plausible explanation for their popularity.

We were sitting next to a fellow student of the great Mr. Cassidy and she was just as amazed. She too had read the books, knew how he was going to do what he was going to do what he did but didn’t see him do what he needed to do to get it done. She attributed this to his presentation and did not buy into our theory that he actually could read minds.

We wanted to engage in further conversation about the likely extra-terrestrial source of Mr. Cassidy’s power but she did not seem interested in continuing the discussion. Actually, she left so quickly we thought there might be a fire or a tiger behind us. Maybe she was just in a hurry. Yes, that is probably it. Unless “they” got to her and she worried about exploring the topic.

We gave up our place in line twice to see Bill Goodwin in the Close-Up Gallery and thought we would have a chance to see him on our third try. We were wrong and got boxed out.

Life is not fair.

Mr. Goodwin was named the Magic Castle Close-Up Performer of the Year at the last awards ceremony and a really nice guy. He runs the Library as if it were his own and all members are his good friends with whom he is willing to share the incredible collection.

We were very disappointed that we could not see him perform. We pouted and thought unkind things towards those who did get to see him – including one member who said he saw him perform twice last week.

We didn’t mean anything bad to happen to that member but at the same time we were jealous, envious and would not have wanted him to win the lottery.

We engaged in self-loathing – still legal in California – for our negative thoughts and tried to ease away the pain with a large Diet Coke. We drank it too quickly and got brain freeze and, seconds later, the hiccups.

We were clearly being punished for our evil envy. We accepted the hiccups like the martyr we were trying to resemble and moped our way back to our little apartment behind the dog treats bakery on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Our two cats could tell something was wrong. They were trying to say something but their powers of communication are rudimentary. We asked them to be more clear or at least more concise or at least to speak one at a time. Cats don’t accept criticism well and they meowed in a manner to suggest the communication problem was ours and not theirs.

As we fell asleep on the inflatable mattress we realized what they were trying to tell us: they had punctured the mattress.

We fell asleep, hiccupping, on the shag carpet and rubber mattress wondering how we could have ever thought we had suffered a wrong.   We did see some great shows – just not all that we wanted to see – we did have a wonderful Diet Coke – evidenced by our hiccups 22 seconds apart – and we had cats who were willing to warn us of problems with our inflatable furniture – although reluctant to admit their complicity in those problems.

Outside the window, we could hear life going on. Tomorrow (today) is a new day and this week will be a new week with great performers to see at the Magic Castle. Our cats curled up at the foot of the sheet of rubber that was our bed and we could feel their purring. They were content. Our hiccups ended and peace fell upon us.

Chocked Full of Magical Goodness – This Week at the Castle

The Magic CastleWhat a week ahead at the World Famous Magic Castle.

The line-up of performers is usually very strong but the next week will feature some amazing talent in all rooms.

Long-time readers of Inside Magic are no doubt aware of our deep reverence for mentalist Bob Cassidy. If Mr. Cassidy wrote it or said it, we consumed it. We have two copies of his outstanding DVD Mental Miracles.

Why two?

It is an old habit from our days working with vinyl records as a disc jockey back in the Midwest. We used to buy two of the great records – one to keep in pristine condition and the other to play. We learned later that DVDs do not wear out quite as quickly as old-fashioned long-playing records or VHS tapes. But, just in case, we are ready.

Plus it is a phenomenal DVD with great mentalism and expert teaching. We used two of the effects – with our own twist – to win some contests. By “with our own twist” we mean we did not steal directly from Mr. Cassidy’s performance.

For instance, we were not as smooth or polished in our presentation and we left out the parts that required any dexterity or thinking. We did, however, don glasses and combed our hair like him. We consider our routines more of an homage rather than a deliberate word-for-word theft of his hard work but only because we like to rationalize to avoid shame spirals and excessive but well-founded self-doubt.

Mr. Cassidy will be in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and so will we. We will be seated, staring with the creepy kind of facial expression that one sees in the lovelorn or pathological, hoping against hope that he chooses us as a volunteer. If he does, we’ll report it here.

Following Mr. Cassidy as the late performer in the Parlor is Rafael Benatar.

We attended Mr. Benatar’s lecture on Sunday and were really impressed. He has a great presence and a well-considered approach to performing magic based on his study under Ascano of Spain. His Cups and Balls was a joy to watch. We learned his own cups had been stolen from his dressing room the night before. We were shocked to hear the news. Call us naïve but we couldn’t imagine a magician stealing props from a colleague. Perhaps it was a non-magician? We thought that was the case until we heard that the thief left the electronics and took only the cups.

Mr. Benatar performed in the Close-Up Gallery last week and will be performing his parlor act in the Parlor – which makes perfect sense and likely did not need to be written.

But wait, there is more.

The Magic Castle’s Librarian Bill Goodwin will be appearing in the Close-Up Gallery and this will be our first opportunity to see him in action. His reputation precedes him and he comes fresh off his win as Close-Up Performer of the Year. We cannot wait to see him perform.

And yet there is even more.

In the Palace of Mystery, Rob Zabrecky, Ardan James and Tina Lenert will be performing on the big stage.

Seriously. At what point does the government need to step in and stop the madness? How many great acts can be booked in one week? Has the Magic Castle no respect for those of us with day jobs who need to get up in the morning?

We have started a course of six espressos every four hours to keep alert so that we can enjoy every minute.

We love performing in the Hat and Hare or Gallery downstairs on the weekends (or whenever we can find one or more people willing to take a card, any card) and sometimes we even feel like we did an okay job in the amateur, impromptu showcase. The contrast this week between the accomplished magicians upstairs and our trembling pawing at cards and spectators downstairs may be too great for us to bear. This might be a great week to just watch the masters at work and enjoy.

Depp as Houdini in New Film

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniHoudini as Johnny Depp is how some of the snarky trade journals are setting the story from here in Hollywood that the famed actor is in negotiations to lead The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.

We have gone on record as liking Johnny Depp and disliking almost all snark about anything always. Accordingly we are looking forward to the film based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book.

We are apparently alone among the top Hollywood journalists, though. Writes Screen Crush:

Depp will play the legendary magician in the new film from Dean Parisot, the director of ‘Red 2,’ which features Houdini as not just a magician, but an investigator of the occult — so it’s definitely territory with which Depp is familiar, given that he gets to wear a hat and spend time in the supernatural realm.

We don’t consider such snark to be affirming and supportive of humanity – or even that clever.

Houdini did not wear hats as often as Harry Kellar or Max Malini or even Chung Ling Soo (off stage). We reached out to Lionsgate – the production company – as to whether Mr. Depp is scheduled to wear a hat in more than 40 percent of the scenes. Surprisingly, we have not heard back from their usually very efficient publicity department. We will update this story as soon as we receive word.

Some of the coverage implies the movie will be adding a new dimension to the Houdini myth by portraying him as a debunker of Spiritualism. Students of the great magician’s history know his persistent battle against the nascent occult movement was just as important as his magic and escape work.

We think Mr. Depp will make a fine Houdini and the Kalush / Sloman book is rich with possibilities for great scenes. We are looking forward to the film without regard to the hat issue.

Mr. Depp is set to film sequels to Alice in Wonderland and The Pirates of the Caribbean soon and so it is not clear when he will have time to take on this new project. This scheduling problem led the Screen Crush reporter to ask snarkily, “No idea where this Houdini film will fit into his schedule, but maybe he can pull some free time out of one of his silly hats.”

No one likes a hater or a hat hater.

Japan Week at the Magic Castle

The Magic CastleThe world famous Magic Castle is hosting some incredible magicians from Japan during their appropriately titled, Japan Week.

We had a chance to see Wakaba in the Parlor of Prestidigitation after watching the Palace of Mystery show starring HAMAchan, Toritto and Masataka Jimbo.

It was a fantastic evening and we will be going back for more this evening.

Wakaba was both charming and funny. She endears herself almost immediately with the audience and is able to overcome (or skillfully take advantage of) any language issue that may exist. Her character on stage is vulnerable and adorable whilst being funny and genuinely charming.

Toritto was the emcee for the Palace of Mystery show and did a great job of getting a slightly rowdy audience in-line and on his side. The first act was HAMAchan and his very lovely assistant. They owned the stage and took over the room with high energy, quirky comedy and great magic. We loved their dances and their impromptu interplay with volunteers from the audience.

Toritto performed the second set mixing comedy and skill with a unique take on the Slydini Paper Ball routine. This effect can and has been done poorly by so many magicians, it was great to see someone with Toritto’s skill and audience management ability do it justice.

The Palace of Mystery finale was Masataka Jimbo. He performed an impossible manipulation act to a stunned audience. He had productions that we cannot explain and assume, therefore, he is a witch of some sort. We almost tired of the woman sitting directly in front of us yelping, “No, no way!” with each more astounding demonstration. His last production caught us off guard and we actually mimicked the woman in front of us, joining her in an exasperated, “No, no way!” of our own. Embarrassingly, our voice was about an octave higher than hers but in synch word-for-word.

A great night and we are looking forward to more this evening and throughout the weekend.