Magical Father’s Day

Actual Image of Us and our FatherFather’s Day is nigh.  It isn’t as popular as Mother’s Day but, to us, just as important.

It is wonderful time to remember how important fathers are in the development of their children generally and specifically for us.

Had it not been for our dad, we likely would never have found our life-long love of magic.  It was, after all, our pop who bought us The Ball and Vase from a magic store in our hometown of Oak Park, Illinois.  He taught us how to perform the miracle and encouraged us to bring it to kindergarten the next morning to show others.

He delighted in hearing about the crowd of fellow students who came to see the miracle and did not seem surprised to hear that the teacher took the trick from us.

Our dad was and is special.  He instilled in our little brain the notion that we can be exceptional and successful with practice and hard work in all things, magic included.

When our parents were going through a divorce, we were called upon to care for our siblings during the summer months while the adults were at work.  Dad promised that our pay for the three months of work would be rewarded by a trip to the Paul Diamond Magic and Fun Wagon at the Palm Beach Mall.  We thought about our booty all summer as we guided our brother and sisters through their days of camp and play and housecleaning.

On Labor Day weekend in 1972, our work was rewarded with a trip to the magic shop.  Our father waited patiently as we considered all of the offerings and quizzed the manager, Barry Gibbs, on what we should get.  Finally, with Mr. Gibbs’ direction, we decided on a magic book rather than a single trick.  That book changed the course of our life.  The Expert at the Card Table by the mysterious S.W. Erdnase cost $3.50 and soon became our source of inspiration and frustration as we tried to master the moves described and illustrated.

Dad selected thousands of cards for us, bought us our first Show Suit, took pride in our winning the state close-up championship, drove us to shows, television studios, magic stores and magic club meetings.  He never once thought our love of magic was a “hobby” and always encouraged us to practice and perform as if we were a true professional – although our voice had not yet changed.

He was and is a great critic.  We recall one afternoon in Chicago – many years later – when he sat through our stab at impromptu stand-up.  He listened carefully and helped us tune the jokes for a comedy career that never happened but was fun in the planning.

It must be a tough decision to allow your eldest child to travel to far away conventions alone or with his teenage friends to spend long hours “hanging out” with strangers in hotels.  But our dad trusted us and the instincts he hoped we had developed.  And when we failed to live up to those standards for behavior, he counseled us and forgave us.  He provided a powerful lesson in that response.

We are blessed to have him with us still.  As is required of all parents from the Midwest, he has been relocated to the Gulf Coast of Florida.  We are pretty sure that is a law.  He remains our counselor, supporter and confessor.  His love was never absent or in doubt.

Father’s Day is nigh and so is our father, always.

Magician Doc Eason is Our Obsession

Doc EasonIn other circles it would be considered stalking but at the Magic Castle, it is just watching; albeit obsessively.

We can literally watch Doc Eason perform for hours on end without rest – or blinking.  He is currently performing at the WC Fields Bar at the Magic Castle and so we have been lurking / admiring and enjoying his shows this week.

Doc works a room better than any politician or performer we have ever seen and we have seen great ones in each category.  He gets the crowd laughing, chanting and then fools the heck out of them.  Either he is the world’s greatest actor or he really enjoys interacting with people.  He takes the audiences as he finds them and within minutes they are all together, trusting him and following his instruction and misdirection without exception.

His patter is effortless and truly funny.  The jokes fit the moments and add to the distraction and misdirection.  He is not cruel or mean and perhaps that is why he so quickly gains the trust of the audience.  There is no reason for them to be on the defensive.

All of his patter and personality would be insufficient if he did not have the sleight-of-hand skills to perform incredible acts of magic under test conditions.  He tells the audience what is going to happen, tells them where it will happen and then it happens and they are blown away.

If you are not able to make it to the Magic Castle this weekend, check out Doc Eason’s videos on YouTube or some of his instructional DVDs available at your local magic store or through his website.

When we grow up, we hope to be like Doc Eason.

Seol-Ha Park is a Magical Magician with Mad Skills

Seol-Ha ParkKorean magician Seol-Ha Park is the real deal.

He has, as they say in the NBA, skills.  He has moves so amazing that you don’t even see them or know that they have happened.  Like neutrinos, his moves are evident only by the change they cause to other visible things.

We watched him perform in the Parlor of Prestidigitation last night at The Magic Castle and reacted like a cartoon character as we rub our eyes and mouthed the word “what?!”  His act is a tightly structured presentation of incredible things happening in the general vicinity of his hands.  His hands do not seem to take on any unnatural positioning as balls vanish, reappear, change color and transform into impossible things.  His hands and fingers move as they would if such things were happening by magic alone, unaided by any secret manipulation.

His approach to the magic happening is a joy to watch.

We love magic and we really love great magic that we cannot begin to figure out.  We do not want to know how it is done and Mr. Park accommodates our desires wonderfully.

Magicians and Tattoos

logobunnyWe’re not judging, just saying.  And remember that we are very shallow.  You could break your fool neck diving into our soul.

As we were growing up in the backlots of circuses and traveling shows throughout this great land, the only folks we saw with tattoos were people with stories.  Their art – usually crudely executed with India ink and a sewing needle hopefully sanitized with a few seconds a top a Zippo lighter – evidenced a special event or devotion to a cause or person.

Consequently, we associated tattoos with folks that had been in a non-mainstream environment; maybe the military (“when I crossed the equator for the first time”), prison (“when I crossed the warden for the first time”) or all-consuming love (“when our paths crossed for the first time”).  We also are old enough to remember seeing the tattoos on survivors of the Holocaust.

Tattoos, for folks of our late age, represented a branding imposed either on or by someone in a life-altering event.   We rarely saw tattoos for tattoos sake.

Then the world changed.  Tattoos are fashionable and hip and expensive.  The technology and sanitization have moved far from India Ink and mom’s sharpest needle to computer-aided design and well-trained crafts persons with shops and Twitter followers and huge revenue streams.

We want to be accepting and embracing of the art embodied in the body of the human canvas and we’re getting better.  We can actually eat a meal served by someone with visible tattoos now.  True, we usually look away as we chew but we do that anyway because of our tendency to drool and collect scraps of food in our facial hair – we don’t have a mustache, goatee or beard but have very bushy eyebrows.

We have a hard time with magicians – our own people – with visible tattoos.  And if we are being honest – and why start now? – we probably would have a hard time with people performing magic if we knew they had a tattoo somewhere on their person.  We are not sure how we would feel about conjoined twins with the performing sibling having no tattoos but the silent twin having visible tattooing.  So far that is a hypothetical thought exercise we like to ponder when we have had too much caffeine or there is a commercial we have seen before or there are no shiny objects moving in our field of vision.  Plus, why is “conjoined twins” not hyphenated?

We know perfectly good people with outstanding magic skills who have had their hands inked as if they had a boxing match with a freshly printed newspaper.  Okay, that analogy did not work but we spent about five minutes trying to think of something clever to make that point and the alternatives were: “as if their hands were made of silly putty and they had just finished reading a comic book,” “as if their hands were made of paper mache from the funny pages,” or “as if they had been sautéed in a light oil and Easter-egg dyes.”  Analogies are hard.  They are harder than something that is usually considered hard by most people.

We have seen magicians perform fantastic feats of magic despite their tattooed state.  They feel no need to explain away the obvious – perhaps because it is not an issue for them or their audience.  That’s when we start to wonder if we are alone in our apparently irrational reaction to something no one else sees?

We wrote a while ago about getting a manicure in keeping with the old adage we just made up, “Dirty Nails, Trick Fails.”  We had good response from fellow magicians online and in person.  Even magicians with hand tattoos agreed that a performer’s hands should be clean and neat.  So maybe it is just us.

We have tried to get over our clear prejudice by seeking out people with tattoos and staring at them intensely; sometimes we will pull food from our pocket and eat whilst staring to test our progress.  We are fortunate to live in West Hollywood where one can find many a tattooed person willing to accept our staring and eating without objection or concern.

We will break down this prejudice somehow.  Just like we overcame our disgust at people who unknowingly use “myself” instead of “me” in sentences or begin each sentence with the word “so.”  We have come to accept folks who smoke e-cigarettes.  In fact the other night we saw a gentleman smoking what looked like an e-cigar.  It was much larger than a cigarette.  When we got closer, though, we saw he was just sucking on a flashlight.  But we were accepting and embraced his healthy alternative to smoking tobacco.

Piff the Magic Dragon Returns to Roots

Inside Magic Image of Piff the Magic Dragon doing a One-Handed Card SpringStar of television, stage and the Penn & Teller magic contest, Piff the Magic Dragon sent us a nice note this morning.  He is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a special, limited run of shows based on his Breakfast at Piffany’s production.  The show will benefit a worthy charity.

We first read about Piff when he performed at the Fringe Festival several years ago.  He and his magic dog, Mr. Piffles have risen to great heights within the magic world and his return to the Fringe will likely sell out almost immediately.  If you are looking to see great magic performed with profound creativity, you need to see Piff the Magic Dragon.

Piff wrote:

I’m coming back to the Fringe this year. But only for two weeks. Here’s some fancy words about it.

“Direct from Las Vegas, Piff returns to the Fringe with an hour of new tricks, old snacks and sweet, sweet prizes. And yes, he’s bringing the dog too.

Part magic show, part game show, part cry for help, Breakfast at Piffany’s sees Piff split the audience into teams to fight for points and prizes, and along the way witness incredible magic tricks, delicious snacks, surprise special guests and epic thumb wars.

A smash hit on the Las Vegas Strip, Piff has dished up desserts to Shania Twain, sold Hollywood star Brad Garrett a croissant for $1000, and dazzled David Copperfield himself with sleight of paw dragony miracles. Piff and Mr Piffles (the World’s First Magic Performing Chihuahua) fly into Edinburgh for sixteen nights only to give UK audiences a taste of what they’ve been missing.

The evening culminates in the Auction of the Croissant, to benefit Edinburgh charity The Sick Kids Friends Foundation (but don’t tell Piff, he’s planning to buy a fancy new castle). In Las Vegas Piff raised over $15,000 in three months by selling stale pastry treats to minor celebrities. It’s unlikely he’ll repeat that feat in a town where punters balk at a £4 beer, but he’ll give it his best shot.