School for Scoundrels Class this Weekend

Pop_Haydn_the_Shell_GameThis weekend, we will be at the feet of the masters, Pop Haydn, Bob Sheets and Chef Anton together teaching the ways of the Scoundrel at The Magic Castle here in Hollywood.  It is a two-day class in the essentials of scoundreling with special attention paid to Three-Card Monte, The Shell Game and Fast and Loose.

The esteemed professors note that the course is “perfect for the historian, steampunker, gambler, lawyer or police officer as well as the magician, this course gives you the inside information.”  We are at least two or three of those types of people so the course should be a perfect fit.

We understand there were only 20 seats available and they may have already been sold out by the time this article posts.

We will report back on what we have learned both in the classroom and in any wayward attempts to scoundrel on the mean streets of Hollywood or Beverly Hills.

We are thinking of getting a specially made cardboard box on which to perform our soon to be acquired Three-Card Monte skills just outside the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset.

We could make it look like it was a shipping container for Louis Vuitton handbags or Christian Louboutin shoes so it would not arouse suspicion amongst the throngs we expect will encircle us with cash money in their hands and dreams of big winnings in their hearts.

Check out the School for Scoundrels site for more information and peruse their great offerings here.

The Illusionists Get Ready in Akron for Broadway Run

Inside Magic Image of IllusionistsAkron, Ohio is magic.

We have said it for years.  Usually it seems out of context but today, finally, it actually matches the rest of our message.

You may know Akron for its proud industrial history – The Rubber Capital of the World with B.F. Goodrich Tire, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Firestone Tire and General Tire all having a historic role in turning the former canal town into a global manufacturing hub.  Or you may know it for the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, the All-American Soap Box Derby or even as the birth place of Alcoholics Anonymous, oatmeal and artificial fishing bait.

And now, Akron is home to The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible as it readies for its run on Broadway.  The cast and crew have been quartered in Akron perfecting the show before moving to New York City.  They will try it out for audience in Akron Wednesday and Thursday at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall.

The show has had a 10-day pre-production schedule in preparation for its six-week Broadway run and 30-city U.S. tour.  The show may be new to Akron and Broadway but many of the magicians have been performing together in earlier iterations of the spectacle over the last two years in Australia, Mexico, Latin America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Who is in the cast?  Funny you should ask.  We have it on good authority that the seven magician are: Kevin James, Dan Sperry, Yu Ho-Jin, Andrew Basso, Aaron Crow and Jeff Hobson.

We love living in West Hollywood for its sunshine, proximity to places where they sell baked goods for domestic animals and The Magic Castle, but wish we were back in Mystic Hollow, Michigan for the short drive down to Akron.  Akron is always magic but this week will be even more so.

Visit their ticket site if you are in the Akron area.  There are just a few seats left.

Read more about their pre-Broadway prep in  The Akron Beacon-Journal here.

 

Penn & Teller: Fool Us and Masters of Illusion Renewed for 2015

Inside Magic Image of Penn & Teller's Fool UsAccording to Variety, the CW has ordered another season of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” and “Masters of Illusion” for 2015.

That is great news for magic fans and portends great things for the future of our great art.

Fool Us originally aired ITV in the UK in 2011.  The production team edited those episodes and repackaged the shows for the CW’s US broadcast this year.

The series received consistently great ratings and – if you asked us – it was a no-brainer for the network to order a new season.

That’s good news but even better news is that they will need to shoot new shows to meet the CW’s order. Penn Jillette promised if renewed, they would film in the US and with US magicians. We have no doubt he will keep his promise.

“Masters of Illusion” had some fantastic acts in this year’s episodes. We do not know if they will need to tape additional acts to meet the renewal order but will report as soon as we hear.

This is great news indeed.

Computer App to Replace Magicians?

Inside Magic Library Cover Page for Happy Hollisters and the Perfect FarosJust above the ground-breaking news report, “18 Celebrities Who Clearly Have Fake Teeth,” The UK Daily Mail warns Dynamo that his job may be at risk.
“Watch out Dynamo! Computer uses artificial intelligence to create magic tricks – and now you can download its illusions as an app.”
We were tempted to get to the bottom of the celebrity fake teeth scandal but decided to read about artificial intelligence’s use in the service of magicians.  We don’t think it will replace human magicians like Dynamo, Criss Angel, David Blaine or Pengo the Magic Clown – at least not yet.

Really smart researchers from London’s Queen Mary University used a computer to design a classic puzzle/trick and devise a mentalism app for your Android or iPhone device.  Both still require a real, human (with or without its natural teeth) to perform and both are impressive.

Even more impressive, however, is the work behind the demonstrations.

The two brains behind the effects, Dr. Howard Williams and Professor Peter McOwan found a natural connection between computers and mathematical magic tricks.  They published their findings in Frontiers in Psychology (which we read only for the pictures) and later sold the effects through a magic shop.  You can pick up the phone version of their card trick in the Google Play Store.  It is called Phoney – even more connection to the celebrity fake teeth scandal.

What can a computer do that a well-trained magician cannot?  Dr. Williams notes, “Computer intelligence can process much larger amounts of information and run through all the possible outcomes in a way that is almost impossible for a person to do on their own. So while, a member of the audience might have seen a variation on this trick before, the AI can now use psychological and mathematical principles to create lots of different versions and keep audiences guessing.”

“AI” means “Artificial (or “Fake”) Intelligence.

We bought Phoney and have it on our Android device and are impressed by its method – not what one would think – and the way the creators have it hide on your phone.  To be fair, it is a trick a magician could do without the AI but it is much easier and just as impressive to use one’s phone.

Check out the Computer Science For Fun website for a great survey of neat magic and non-magic things computers can do: www.cs4fn.org/magic.  The site has links to other great sites where you can download free ebooks with neat science-based magic tricks.

By the way, we checked out the fake teeth scandal and were shocked to learn that some of the biggest stars in Hollywood have had dental work – some had whitening, others got caps and one female star apparently had braces to straighten her teeth.  Frankly, we feel faint and need to sit down for a little bit.

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.