Chance Wolf Does it Again! Run Wolf Run

Chance Wolf and Run Wolf Run
On those few days when Hardy Family Estate ("Wee
Coli") is without staff.  They seem
to coincide with days the circus or a particular seedy carnival is in
town.  When they are not at work, the
family must fend for itself. 

We are not
patient people.  The microwave oven's
timer has never made it all the way to zero seconds.  Many a time we have cracked the enamel from
our teeth chomping on undercooked Minute Rice. 
We like stuff now, not later. 

This pressing psychological condition is ever-more evident
today as this confession is scribed.

We estimate there are three more days until we receive the
very latest masterpiece from Chance and Shelly at Wolf's Magic, Run Wolf Run.

We have purchased several items from Wacky Wolf Productions
and have never been disappointed — not even a little.  Nay, we've actually been able to admit that
the final product was well worth the wait. 
As a former babysitter once said about our sister, "Hey, that's
saying something." 

(It turns out "it" wasn't really saying anything
at all — just shifting on the rotisserie rack). 

We have previously purchased Run Rabbit Run, Run Dragon
Run
, Slither Snake Slither, Divide Cell Divide (Close-Up Trick), and
the mind-numbing Slide Snail Slide

They all had one thing in common – we don't own them any
more.  The front of these props (the part
the audience is supposed to see) did not impress audiences – and the back of
the trick sure didn't impress us.

So why would we spend our money on yet another trick showing
a mischievous creature running between poorly painted doors? 

Well, actually, we may not bright but at least we're blessed
with a short memory. 

But that question has no relevance here. 

Today, we're more excited than mom at a troop-ship arrival. 

Mr. Wolf advised us that the method is not like our previous
tricks.    

He wrote:

Mechanically inspired by the
Classic Run Bonzo Run created by the
late great Jack Hughes. We have taken this effect and created a prop that is
Visually and Mechanically SUPERIOR to any Run
Rabbit Run
type effect in magic history!

The classic plot has been changed
and now stars our very own "Wacky Wolf" as the mischievous "Egg
Bandit" who raids the Chicken Coop trying to steal eggs to pay his back
rent! We have upgraded the mechanics and structure to last for YEARS of
performance!

 

So the back side works great but how is the front side?  That's the part the audience usually sees
if you're not in a crazed delirium from roughing fluid fumes.  Well, you can see for yourself by looking at the pictures on the Wolf Magic site .  It looks to us like the design and execution will exceed the high standards set by Wolf
Magic.

We are so thankful for inventive and creative people like
Chance and Shelly.  Their dedication to
quality in concept, design, manufacture and testing makes them special among
magic dealers.  We put them in the
special echelon occupied by George
Robinson, Jr
. at Viking / Collector's Workshop, and Steve Axtell at Axtell Expressions, Rick Fisher at FAB Magic, and Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster.   

Two or maybe three days more and we'll have the very latest
from the very finest.  We'll put the
review right here on Quinlan's Inside Magic just as soon as possible. 

We take solace from two refrigerator magnets in the Hardy
kitchen: "Good things come to those who wait" and "Only the good
die young."

So we figure we're not going anywhere anytime soon. 

If you are interested in getting your own Run Wolf Run, we suggest you order
today.  The quantities are limited
(they're all hand-made) and we understand the product announcement has been
well-received.

As of this writing, there were only five left in stock.

Mr. Wolf tells us Run
Wolf Run
is complete, in stock and ready to ship.  In fact, we
received our notice of shipment within six hours of our order. 

Head over to www.wolfsmagic.com for pictures and a full
description.  Look for our review later this week — we hope!!

 

 


Continue reading Chance Wolf Does it Again! Run Wolf Run

Magic Looting – Today and Tomorrow

Quinlan’s Inside Magic started with two simple, fundamental objectives.

 We wanted to produce an interesting website about magic as an
entertainment art form and to find cures for Consumption and Dropsy.

To our chagrin, someone had already discovered cures for these 18th Century ailments of the swarthy but unsanitary.

We also found the Internet was not yet developed to the point to allow
connections for more than two or three house-sized computers.

Drawing upon our mastery of side-show stunts, we decided to perform
the classic Window Trance to await the coming of the computer age.

Fortunately, a local merchant allowed us space in his store window to begin our sleep/trance.

Unfortunately, the shop was in the heart of a major metropolitan
downtown area. We were awakened during a riot some years after our
demonstration began.

Our clear glass sarcophagus was looted ("stolen") and we were pawned with it for just over $200.00.

We revived from our slumber in the back room of Leo & Leah’s
Instant Loans in a small Midwestern town. We broke our fast with Tab
and Beef Jerky before escaping when Leah stepped out to purchase
additional Shell No-Pest Strips.

The world had changed in those intervening years. Gone was the trust
and love with which we once associated shopkeepers, looters, pawn-shop
operators, and the common man. We found however, one thing had not
changed. Magicians still sought to perfect the Perfect Pass; and kids
couldn’t resist balloon animals.

Our course was clear. We would develop an act featuring the Perfect
Pass and balloon animals. We’d take it on the road, make money, and
await the coming of the Internet.

Before our Window Trance, we messed a bit with balloon animals – but
the "messing" was primarily due to our over-active salivary glands. In
fact, some of the old-timers no doubt recall when we could perform an
entire balloon animal routine without using a single balloon — thanks
to our over-productive glands.

Washington Irving wrote, "[n]othing suffices to dry a body’s mouth of saliva than a long, restful sleep of years."

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson and his Transcendentalist School who
proved the compound alum or proper dental hygiene would be as effective
as sleeping for more than a decade with your mouth open.

Mr. Emerson and his pal Henry David Thoreau readily admitted the alum
and daily brushing could not out-perform a decade-long slumber. "The
external touches of brush and chemical do not conquer years of rest but
looks eye-to-eye with it." 

(We’re guessing Emerson would insist on it being an "all-seeing eyeball" – heh, heh).

Balloon modeling is like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it and if you fall, you can be rendered sterile.

In
November of 1978, our touring show consisted of our construction of the
classic Robert-Houdin Chess Player Automaton made entirely of balloons.

The Automaton, once built, could complete the perfect Perfect Pass. The
show was a big hit but only among magicians.

Audiences tired of
watching us inflate, tie, sculpt, and inflate again the 82 balloons
necessary to assemble the Automaton. Because of the intricate gear
works, some of the balloons were less than 100 millimeters in length
yet required seven properly placed twists. In all, the construction
took about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.

The horrible squeaking from the balloon sculpting could cause ears to bleed.

Unfortunately,
once the Automaton was built and cards were placed in his balloony
hands, the perfect Perfect Pass was so imperceptible the audience did
not appreciate our genius.

To the casual observer, it looked like the
balloon man held a deck of cards, shuddered, and was still holding the
deck of cards.

We left before the official end of our contract with the Mexican-themed Las Vegas resort, Las Flatulence?s.

(Ironically,
or perhaps not, the "Las Flats" as it was called by regulars, closed a
short-time after we left. It was the first true "theme casino" in Vegas
and pre-dated Steve Wynn’s Mirage by two decades.

It was also an
ingenious method of turning a negative into a positive: the hotel was
built over a sulfur spring and rather than try to eradicate the
sometimes offensive belch of air from the underground, the owners made
it a tourist attraction.

A family could sit in one of the lobbies, sip
their drinks, and wait the invisible but pungent spewing from one of
the many Holes of Plenty drilled into the floor. Vegas has lost so much
of its charm in the intervening years. 

Today’s hotels try to mask foul odors or blame the Craps players.)

Our routine
fit easily within a lecture format and we were in great demand to
appear at conventions and local magic clubs. It wasn’t long before we
were ripped-off, though.

You may not have connected
the spate of advertisements in magic magazines with the theft of our
intellectual property, but you no doubt saw the advertisements.
Remember the ad from a former powerhouse magic dealer?

The
Balloon Buffoon:
You assemble this inflated dolt with ordinary latex
balloons and he comes to life and livens up your show! You can assemble
him on stage or before you begin. Your audience will gasp when they see
him attempt and fail to perform a perfect Perfect Pass.

Or how about this one?

Hot
Air Henry (or Henrietta):
Do you do kidz show? Do you’re kidz’s shows
lack that certain "Professionel Flair?" You’re kidz are sure to love
Hot Air Henry (Or Henrietta – his sister or friend)!! You blow up
balloons that you can twist not like a dog or a giraffe but like a boy
(or girl) who can use it’s magic power to cut a deck of cards (not
included) in half!"

Despite the lousy
proof-reading that seemed to be the hallmark of magic ads in the
1980’s, both effects were exactly our Automaton.

Because they were
advertised as comedy props — neither maker could get the balloon
figures to perfect the Perfect Pass — some magic dealers believed this
was not an infringement of our hard-earned intellectual properties.

The
problem of rip-offs – like the foul smell in certain hotels – remains with us today.

Although, we are more interested
in how things affect us, we note with casual disdain the easy path
chosen by some magic dealers and magic manufacturers. If a trick is
great, it deserves to be priced like a great trick. If a trick is not
so great, it shouldn’t even be sold.

But egos (like
their spell-check suggested replacement "Eggos") are often larger than
one’s plate.

There exists a spirit of entitlement haunting the soul
where a spirit of inventiveness once dwelled.

Like the sulphuric stench
pouring from the floors of the showroom we once called home, this foul
essence retards invention and anesthetizes the souls of those who would
never otherwise consider supporting thieves.

Strat-O-Spheres
was a great trick. We had it, still have it, and loved it. The
principle was not new but the use of the principle and the design of
the props made it worth every bit of the $30.00 it cost back in 1974 as
well as its current price that is well-below $30.00 if one considers
the real-value of today’s dollars versus those three decades ago.

But
if you would rather not purchase the prop from its true owner, you can
buy a functional equivalent from a knock-off artist.

Do
you enjoy the Healed and Sealed effect? Despite the incredibly bad
performance by David Blaine of this miracle, it became the hot effect.

Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster taught the method in special add-on
seminars at some conventions and offered the licensed version to
magicians through their web site.

Their reward for following the rules,
preserving secrecy, and ethically marketing the effect was to be robbed
of sales by magic dealers for whom ethics, secrecy and property rights
were merely costs of doing business for others.

By ignoring these
rules, their costs could be lower and they could sell in bulk to make
their money the old fashioned way, counterfeiting.

We
do not agree, however, with those who would take the classics off the
market under the guise of protecting the property rights of the
masters.

We have heard some argue Cups and Balls, The Imp Bottle, Ball and Vase, should be lumped together with modern innovations such
as Collector’s Workshop’s Badland’s Bob, or Bazar de Magia’s Time Machine.

This specious argument comes from those who would remove protection
rather than to support it.

Their argument is disingenuous: "If we’re
not going to restrict the copying of Cups and Balls how can we draw the
line to protect modern effects based on classic principles?"

Guy "Bug" Tussle’s show is nothing if not original.

We noted a couple of weeks ago his on-going litigation with the Kraft Food Company.  As readers are aware, Mr. Tussle wants a Las Vegas court to lift Kraft’s injunction against his closing illusion Whiz Wizzard.

Mr. Tussle addressed the
slippery-slope argument eloquently on one of the magic forums. "Those
who don’t know how to draw the line shouldn’t be allowed to have pens
in the first place. If you cannot tell why Cups and Balls is
different than an effect like Perfect Pen or The Thought Transmitter, you are either not a magician or not honest."

While
we were in our state of suspended animation, we had a chance to think
of many things.

While most of them dealt with our failed magic and
dating careers, we occasionally gave consideration of Magic’s proud
history.

Unlike many histories, ours is not necessarily written only by
the "victors."

Magicians seem to view magic more as a community than
battlefield. While there may be some who would boost their economic
status by theft, they are never considered the "victors" or great
magicians.

They are seen, we believe, as parasitic enterprises that,
like the red-light districts located by military and labor camps,
fulfill the purile desires of those who seek instant gratification.

Ironically,
when our sarcophagus was looted and pawned, we felt more pity than
animus for the thieves.

While we would see another city and meet new
people when we were pawned, they would return to their unsatisfying
search for the next item to pawn.

Today’s magic rip-off artist sees
margins where we see inspiration and inventiveness. These magic
thieves, like our looters, will never truly enjoy what they have or
what they see.

They are cursed to see only dollar signs where we see
true magic.

Tanya Harding, the nearly famous skater and Quinlan’s Inside Magic "Dream Date" is
alleged to have said:

"If you want to break someone’s leg just to win a
competition, you might win that competition.

"If you’re trying to break
their leg to be the best in the world, that’s a different thing. You
can’t be the best in the world if you got there that way."

You can see why we love Tanya Harding. 

   

 


Continue reading Magic Looting – Today and Tomorrow

Magic Looting: Then and Now

Leah - Pretty Woman and Fair Prices for Your Stolen GoodsQuinlan's Inside Magic started with two simple, fundamental objectives.

 We wanted to produce an interesting website about magic as an entertainment art form and to find cures for Consumption and Dropsy.

To our chagrin, someone had already discovered cures for these 18th Century ailments of the swarthy but unsanitary.

We also found the Internet was not yet developed to the point to allow connections for more than two or three house-sized computers.

Drawing upon our mastery of side-show stunts, we decided to perform the classic Window Trance to await the coming of the computer age.

Fortunately, a local merchant allowed us space in his store window to begin our sleep/trance.

Unfortunately, the shop was in the heart of a major metropolitan downtown area. We were awakened during a riot some years after our demonstration began.

Our clear glass sarcophagus was looted ("stolen") and we were pawned with it for just over $200.00.

We revived from our slumber in the back room of Leo & Leah's Instant Loans in a small Midwestern town. We broke our fast with Tab and Beef Jerky before escaping when Leah stepped out to purchase additional Shell No-Pest Strips.

The world had changed in those intervening years. Gone was the trust and love with which we once associated shopkeepers, looters, pawn-shop operators, and the common man. We found however, one thing had not changed. Magicians still sought to perfect the Perfect Pass; and kids couldn't resist balloon animals.

Our course was clear. We would develop an act featuring the Perfect Pass and balloon animals. We'd take it on the road, make money, and await the coming of the Internet.

Before our Window Trance, we messed a bit with balloon animals – but the "messing" was primarily due to our over-active salivary glands. In fact, some of the old-timers no doubt recall when we could perform an entire balloon animal routine without using a single balloon — thanks to our over-productive glands.

Washington Irving wrote, "[n]othing suffices to dry a body's mouth of saliva than a long, restful sleep of years."

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson and his Transcendentalist School who proved the compound alum or proper dental hygiene would be as effective as sleeping for more than a decade with your mouth open.

Mr. Emerson and his pal Henry David Thoreau readily admitted the alum and daily brushing could not out-perform a decade-long slumber. "The external touches of brush and chemical do not conquer years of rest but looks eye-to-eye with it." 

(We're guessing Emerson would insist on it being an "all-seeing eyeball" – heh, heh).

Balloon modeling is like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it and if you fall, you can be rendered sterile.

In
November of 1978, our touring show consisted of our construction of the
classic Robert-Houdin Chess Player Automaton made entirely of balloons.

The Automaton, once built, could complete the perfect Perfect Pass. The
show was a big hit but only among magicians.

Audiences tired of
watching us inflate, tie, sculpt, and inflate again the 82 balloons
necessary to assemble the Automaton. Because of the intricate gear
works, some of the balloons were less than 100 millimeters in length
yet required seven properly placed twists. In all, the construction
took about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.

The horrible squeaking from the balloon sculpting could cause ears to bleed.

Unfortunately,
once the Automaton was built and cards were placed in his balloony
hands, the perfect Perfect Pass was so imperceptible the audience did
not appreciate our genius.

To the casual observer, it looked like the
balloon man held a deck of cards, shuddered, and was still holding the
deck of cards.

We left before the official end of our contract with the Mexican-themed Las Vegas resort, Las Flatulence’s.

(Ironically,
or perhaps not, the "Las Flats" as it was called by regulars, closed a
short-time after we left. It was the first true "theme casino" in Vegas
and pre-dated Steve Wynn's Mirage by two decades.

It was also an
ingenious method of turning a negative into a positive: the hotel was
built over a sulfur spring and rather than try to eradicate the
sometimes offensive belch of air from the underground, the owners made
it a tourist attraction.

A family could sit in one of the lobbies, sip
their drinks, and wait the invisible but pungent spewing from one of
the many Holes of Plenty drilled into the floor. Vegas has lost so much
of its charm in the intervening years. 

Today's hotels try to mask foul odors or blame the Craps players.)

Our routine
fit easily within a lecture format and we were in great demand to
appear at conventions and local magic clubs. It wasn't long before we
were ripped-off, though.

You may not have connected
the spate of advertisements in magic magazines with the theft of our
intellectual property, but you no doubt saw the advertisements.
Remember the ad from a former powerhouse magic dealer?

The
Balloon Buffoon:
You assemble this inflated dolt with ordinary latex
balloons and he comes to life and livens up your show! You can assemble
him on stage or before you begin. Your audience will gasp when they see
him attempt and fail to perform a perfect Perfect Pass.

Or how about this one?

Hot
Air Henry (or Henrietta):
Do you do kidz show? Do you're kidz's shows
lack that certain "Professionel Flair?" You're kidz are sure to love
Hot Air Henry (Or Henrietta – his sister or friend)!! You blow up
balloons that you can twist not like a dog or a giraffe but like a boy
(or girl) who can use it's magic power to cut a deck of cards (not
included) in half!"

Despite the lousy
proof-reading that seemed to be the hallmark of magic ads in the
1980's, both effects were exactly our Automaton.

Because they were
advertised as comedy props — neither maker could get the balloon
figures to perfect the Perfect Pass — some magic dealers believed this
was not an infringement of our hard-earned intellectual properties.

The
problem of rip-offs – like the foul smell in certain hotels – remains with us today.

Although, we are more interested
in how things affect us, we note with casual disdain the easy path
chosen by some magic dealers and magic manufacturers. If a trick is
great, it deserves to be priced like a great trick. If a trick is not
so great, it shouldn't even be sold.

But egos (like
their spell-check suggested replacement "Eggos") are often larger than
one's plate.

There exists a spirit of entitlement haunting the soul
where a spirit of inventiveness once dwelled.

Like the sulphuric stench
pouring from the floors of the showroom we once called home, this foul
essence retards invention and anesthetizes the souls of those who would
never otherwise consider supporting thieves.

Strat-O-Spheres
was a great trick. We had it, still have it, and loved it. The
principle was not new but the use of the principle and the design of
the props made it worth every bit of the $30.00 it cost back in 1974 as
well as its current price that is well-below $30.00 if one considers
the real-value of today's dollars versus those three decades ago.

But
if you would rather not purchase the prop from its true owner, you can
buy a functional equivalent from a knock-off artist.

Do
you enjoy the Healed and Sealed effect? Despite the incredibly bad
performance by David Blaine of this miracle, it became the hot effect.

Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster taught the method in special add-on
seminars at some conventions and offered the licensed version to
magicians through their web site.

Their reward for following the rules,
preserving secrecy, and ethically marketing the effect was to be robbed
of sales by magic dealers for whom ethics, secrecy and property rights
were merely costs of doing business for others.

By ignoring these
rules, their costs could be lower and they could sell in bulk to make
their money the old fashioned way, counterfeiting.

We
do not agree, however, with those who would take the classics off the
market under the guise of protecting the property rights of the
masters.

We have heard some argue Cups and Balls, The Imp Bottle, Ball and Vase, should be lumped together with modern innovations such
as Collector's Workshop's Badland's Bob, or Bazar de Magia's Time Machine.

This specious argument comes from those who would remove protection
rather than to support it.

Their argument is disingenuous: "If we're
not going to restrict the copying of Cups and Balls how can we draw the
line to protect modern effects based on classic principles?"

Guy "Bug" Tussle's show is nothing if not original.

We noted a couple of weeks ago his on-going litigation with the Kraft Food Company.  As readers are aware, Mr. Tussle wants a Las Vegas court to lift Kraft's injunction against his closing illusion Whiz Wizzard.

Mr. Tussle addressed the
slippery-slope argument eloquently on one of the magic forums. "Those
who don't know how to draw the line shouldn't be allowed to have pens
in the first place. If you cannot tell why Cups and Balls is
different than an effect like Perfect Pen or The Thought Transmitter, you are either not a magician or not honest."

While
we were in our state of suspended animation, we had a chance to think
of many things.

While most of them dealt with our failed magic and
dating careers, we occasionally gave consideration of Magic's proud
history.

Unlike many histories, ours is not necessarily written only by
the "victors."

Magicians seem to view magic more as a community than
battlefield. While there may be some who would boost their economic
status by theft, they are never considered the "victors" or great
magicians.

They are seen, we believe, as parasitic enterprises that,
like the red-light districts located by military and labor camps,
fulfill the purile desires of those who seek instant gratification.

Ironically,
when our sarcophagus was looted and pawned, we felt more pity than
animus for the thieves.

While we would see another city and meet new
people when we were pawned, they would return to their unsatisfying
search for the next item to pawn.

Today's magic rip-off artist sees
margins where we see inspiration and inventiveness. These magic
thieves, like our looters, will never truly enjoy what they have or
what they see.

They are cursed to see only dollar signs where we see
true magic.

Tanya Harding, the nearly famous skater and Quinlan's Inside Magic "Dream Date" is
alleged to have said:

"If you want to break someone's leg just to win a
competition, you might win that competition.

"If you're trying to break
their leg to be the best in the world, that's a different thing. You
can't be the best in the world if you got there that way."

You can see why we love Tanya Harding. 

 

Leah - Pretty Woman and Fair Prices for Your Stolen GoodsQuinlan's Inside Magic started with two simple, fundamental objectives.

 We wanted to produce an interesting website about magic as an
entertainment art form and to find cures for Consumption and Dropsy.

To our chagrin, someone had already discovered cures for these 18th Century ailments of the swarthy but unsanitary.

We also found the Internet was not yet developed to the point to allow
connections for more than two or three house-sized computers.

Drawing upon our mastery of side-show stunts, we decided to perform
the classic Window Trance to await the coming of the computer age.

Fortunately, a local merchant allowed us space in his store window to begin our sleep/trance.

Unfortunately, the shop was in the heart of a major metropolitan
downtown area. We were awakened during a riot some years after our
demonstration began.

Our clear glass sarcophagus was looted ("stolen") and we were pawned with it for just over $200.00.

We revived from our slumber in the back room of Leo & Leah's
Instant Loans in a small Midwestern town. We broke our fast with Tab
and Beef Jerky before escaping when Leah stepped out to purchase
additional Shell No-Pest Strips.

The world had changed in those intervening years. Gone was the trust
and love with which we once associated shopkeepers, looters, pawn-shop
operators, and the common man. We found however, one thing had not
changed. Magicians still sought to perfect the Perfect Pass; and kids
couldn't resist balloon animals.

Our course was clear. We would develop an act featuring the Perfect
Pass and balloon animals. We'd take it on the road, make money, and
await the coming of the Internet.

Before our Window Trance, we messed a bit with balloon animals – but
the "messing" was primarily due to our over-active salivary glands. In
fact, some of the old-timers no doubt recall when we could perform an
entire balloon animal routine without using a single balloon — thanks
to our over-productive glands.

Washington Irving wrote, "[n]othing suffices to dry a body's mouth of saliva than a long, restful sleep of years."

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson and his Transcendentalist School who
proved the compound alum or proper dental hygiene would be as effective
as sleeping for more than a decade with your mouth open.

Mr. Emerson and his pal Henry David Thoreau readily admitted the alum
and daily brushing could not out-perform a decade-long slumber. "The
external touches of brush and chemical do not conquer years of rest but
looks eye-to-eye with it." 

(We're guessing Emerson would insist on it being an "all-seeing eyeball" – heh, heh).

Balloon modeling is like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it and if you fall, you can be rendered sterile.

In
November of 1978, our touring show consisted of our construction of the
classic Robert-Houdin Chess Player Automaton made entirely of balloons.

The Automaton, once built, could complete the perfect Perfect Pass. The
show was a big hit but only among magicians.

Audiences tired of
watching us inflate, tie, sculpt, and inflate again the 82 balloons
necessary to assemble the Automaton. Because of the intricate gear
works, some of the balloons were less than 100 millimeters in length
yet required seven properly placed twists. In all, the construction
took about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.

The horrible squeaking from the balloon sculpting could cause ears to bleed.

Unfortunately,
once the Automaton was built and cards were placed in his balloony
hands, the perfect Perfect Pass was so imperceptible the audience did
not appreciate our genius.

To the casual observer, it looked like the
balloon man held a deck of cards, shuddered, and was still holding the
deck of cards.

We left before the official end of our contract with the Mexican-themed Las Vegas resort, Las Flatulence’s.

(Ironically,
or perhaps not, the "Las Flats" as it was called by regulars, closed a
short-time after we left. It was the first true "theme casino" in Vegas
and pre-dated Steve Wynn's Mirage by two decades.

It was also an
ingenious method of turning a negative into a positive: the hotel was
built over a sulfur spring and rather than try to eradicate the
sometimes offensive belch of air from the underground, the owners made
it a tourist attraction.

A family could sit in one of the lobbies, sip
their drinks, and wait the invisible but pungent spewing from one of
the many Holes of Plenty drilled into the floor. Vegas has lost so much
of its charm in the intervening years. 

Today's hotels try to mask foul odors or blame the Craps players.)

Our routine
fit easily within a lecture format and we were in great demand to
appear at conventions and local magic clubs. It wasn't long before we
were ripped-off, though.

You may not have connected
the spate of advertisements in magic magazines with the theft of our
intellectual property, but you no doubt saw the advertisements.
Remember the ad from a former powerhouse magic dealer?

The
Balloon Buffoon:
You assemble this inflated dolt with ordinary latex
balloons and he comes to life and livens up your show! You can assemble
him on stage or before you begin. Your audience will gasp when they see
him attempt and fail to perform a perfect Perfect Pass.

Or how about this one?

Hot
Air Henry (or Henrietta):
Do you do kidz show? Do you're kidz's shows
lack that certain "Professionel Flair?" You're kidz are sure to love
Hot Air Henry (Or Henrietta – his sister or friend)!! You blow up
balloons that you can twist not like a dog or a giraffe but like a boy
(or girl) who can use it's magic power to cut a deck of cards (not
included) in half!"

Despite the lousy
proof-reading that seemed to be the hallmark of magic ads in the
1980's, both effects were exactly our Automaton.

Because they were
advertised as comedy props — neither maker could get the balloon
figures to perfect the Perfect Pass — some magic dealers believed this
was not an infringement of our hard-earned intellectual properties.

The
problem of rip-offs – like the foul smell in certain hotels – remains with us today.

Although, we are more interested
in how things affect us, we note with casual disdain the easy path
chosen by some magic dealers and magic manufacturers. If a trick is
great, it deserves to be priced like a great trick. If a trick is not
so great, it shouldn't even be sold.

But egos (like
their spell-check suggested replacement "Eggos") are often larger than
one's plate.

There exists a spirit of entitlement haunting the soul
where a spirit of inventiveness once dwelled.

Like the sulphuric stench
pouring from the floors of the showroom we once called home, this foul
essence retards invention and anesthetizes the souls of those who would
never otherwise consider supporting thieves.

Strat-O-Spheres
was a great trick. We had it, still have it, and loved it. The
principle was not new but the use of the principle and the design of
the props made it worth every bit of the $30.00 it cost back in 1974 as
well as its current price that is well-below $30.00 if one considers
the real-value of today's dollars versus those three decades ago.

But
if you would rather not purchase the prop from its true owner, you can
buy a functional equivalent from a knock-off artist.

Do
you enjoy the Healed and Sealed effect? Despite the incredibly bad
performance by David Blaine of this miracle, it became the hot effect.

Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster taught the method in special add-on
seminars at some conventions and offered the licensed version to
magicians through their web site.

Their reward for following the rules,
preserving secrecy, and ethically marketing the effect was to be robbed
of sales by magic dealers for whom ethics, secrecy and property rights
were merely costs of doing business for others.

By ignoring these
rules, their costs could be lower and they could sell in bulk to make
their money the old fashioned way, counterfeiting.

We
do not agree, however, with those who would take the classics off the
market under the guise of protecting the property rights of the
masters.

We have heard some argue Cups and Balls, The Imp Bottle, Ball and Vase, should be lumped together with modern innovations such
as Collector's Workshop's Badland's Bob, or Bazar de Magia's Time Machine.

This specious argument comes from those who would remove protection
rather than to support it.

Their argument is disingenuous: "If we're
not going to restrict the copying of Cups and Balls how can we draw the
line to protect modern effects based on classic principles?"

Guy "Bug" Tussle's show is nothing if not original.

We noted a couple of weeks ago his on-going litigation with the Kraft Food Company.  As readers are aware, Mr. Tussle wants a Las Vegas court to lift Kraft's injunction against his closing illusion Whiz Wizzard.

Mr. Tussle addressed the
slippery-slope argument eloquently on one of the magic forums. "Those
who don't know how to draw the line shouldn't be allowed to have pens
in the first place. If you cannot tell why Cups and Balls is
different than an effect like Perfect Pen or The Thought Transmitter, you are either not a magician or not honest."

While
we were in our state of suspended animation, we had a chance to think
of many things.

While most of them dealt with our failed magic and
dating careers, we occasionally gave consideration of Magic's proud
history.

Unlike many histories, ours is not necessarily written only by
the "victors."

Magicians seem to view magic more as a community than
battlefield. While there may be some who would boost their economic
status by theft, they are never considered the "victors" or great
magicians.

They are seen, we believe, as parasitic enterprises that,
like the red-light districts located by military and labor camps,
fulfill the purile desires of those who seek instant gratification.

Ironically,
when our sarcophagus was looted and pawned, we felt more pity than
animus for the thieves.

While we would see another city and meet new
people when we were pawned, they would return to their unsatisfying
search for the next item to pawn.

Today's magic rip-off artist sees
margins where we see inspiration and inventiveness. These magic
thieves, like our looters, will never truly enjoy what they have or
what they see.

They are cursed to see only dollar signs where we see
true magic.

Tanya Harding, the nearly famous skater and Quinlan's Inside Magic "Dream Date" is
alleged to have said:

"If you want to break someone's leg just to win a
competition, you might win that competition.

"If you're trying to break
their leg to be the best in the world, that's a different thing. You
can't be the best in the world if you got there that way."

You can see why we love Tanya Harding. 

   

 


Continue reading Magic Looting: Then and Now

Chris Wasshuber: Digital Sphinx Is Here!

A while ago — it was last year, we think — we
reviewed the incredible work of Chris Wasshuber on the complete Sphinx
Collection.

It was incredible. It was gigantic but incredible.

Because
we read it from cover to cover, in chronological order, it didn’t
really much matter it was not fully digital and searchable. We were
able to use the data provided to do better than crude searches to find
articles but more importantly, it just gave us a warm feeling to know
it was all in one place.

That warm feeling has returned and we received news the Master of Magic’s Memory has finished his magnum opus.

The warm feeling should go away with penicillin; the Digital Sphinx will be here forever.

We
mentioned last time the collection is not cheap. In fact, it is as we
say in the street-corner drug sale oeuvre, “pricey.” But as Li’l Tom
Hardy used to say, “If you want cheap, buy a bird.”

If you
purchased an earlier version of Mr. Wasshuber’s wonderful work, he has
an offer to upgrade to the fully digital and searchable version for
$100.00. The full-version of the work is $499.00. 

So the question on the table has to be: Is it worth it? Can any magic resource be worth $499.00

The
set gives you immediate access to all 52 volumes (consisting of all 597
issues) for about 17,000 pages.  The collection was convenient to
browse and search thanks to Mr. Wasshuber’s planning: each volume is
its own PDF file, and each PDF file can be searched through the
complete index or by search engine. 

We loaded the files
to our hard drive, ran our Google Desktop Version 2 through it, and we
could now search three or four different ways.  We thought this
was genius on our part — of course, it was only possible because of
Mr. Wasshuber’s consistent and accurate file structure.  By the
way, Google Desktop Version 2 does not come with the package but can be
downloaded for free from Google.com.

We use it to find
anything in our electronic collection from Lybrary.com.  So when
we run a search on a particular effect or sleight, we will receive
results from The Tarbell Course, The Sphinx, Card College Vol. 1, and
several other collections.  

The collection also includes
very well written features to set the theme for the information you now
possess.  Mr. Wasshuber added a bunch of extras to the new set
including: an introduction by Bill Kuethe, an article about The Sphinx
by Gabe Fajuri, a talk about The Sphinx also by Gabe Fajuri, and the persona research and recordings of A.M. Wilson’s granddaughter Mary Syphus.

The Sphinx
is arguably the most important magic magazine and complete files are
extremely rare. We think we heard some early issues only saw a print
run of 75 copies. A complete set in good condition goes today for
around $5000. This is the time for you to own a complete file in
digital form.

So who can you read within these hallowed pages?

Here’s
a partial list: Ted Annemann, Al Baker, David Bamberg, Ross Bertram, J.
B. Bobo, Fred Braue, Jack Chanin, Milbourne Christopher, Joseph
Dunninger, Ade Duval, Bruce Elliott, Dariel Fitzkee, Karrell Fox, Frank
Garcia, Martin Gardner, Robert Harbin, Guy Jarrett, Fu Manchu,…

Continue reading Chris Wasshuber: Digital Sphinx Is Here!

Correction: Longest Magic Show Honor Belongs in Melbourne

Andre Kole’s article urging the IBM to sanction individuals stealing his illusions included a reference to the World Record for the longest magic show. Unfortunately, Mr. Kole credited Dr. Alex with the record.

(Although, if Dr. Alex claims the record for a single person performing, he may be right).

The Guinness people have not yet updated their information but the new official holders of this endurance feat are participants in the appropriately named World’s Longest Magic Show (“WLMS”) including Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster.

In fact, as we typed this late-breaking news, Mr. Ellis said he just received the certification from the Guinness people.  It is now official.

Certainly Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster can be considered ardent supporters of Mr. Kole’s cause to prevent theft of intellectual property. It is fitting they were instrumental in breaking Dr. Alex’ record.

Continue reading Correction: Longest Magic Show Honor Belongs in Melbourne