A Thankful Magician

Inside Magic LogoLooking back over the last year, we have much for which to be thankful.  But we are never sure when we are supposed to be thankful.  We may have been thankful at the wrong time, at Thanksgiving and so technically our thankfulness will either be redundant or just for the blessings received since the day before Black Friday.

But there have been many things since the official start to the shopping season that we consider thank-worthy.  For instance, our eyebrows are growing back following what could have been a horrific flash paper ignition accident when we looked down the business end of our flash wand to see if the glow plug was working.  It was but we couldn’t see it because of the over-stuffing of the muzzle with what we thought was too old flash paper.

We are thankful that our neighbor here on Santa Monica Boulevard was evicted and we do not need to lie awake worrying whether he was abusing cats or learning to play a stringed instrument.  The new tenant seems nice.  She operates a “call service” – we’re guessing that means she acts as a human alarm clock and calls customers at appointed times to make sure they get a fresh start on the day.  Apparently some of her customers do not have phones – or maybe they don’t have good phone chargers – because she frequently has to leave her small office to call on them personally.  She works around the clock but is very quiet and frequently brings us gifts of personal-sized shampoo and conditioner from some really nice hotels.

We are thankful that our audition at The Magic Castle is coming up.  We will be performing before the membership committee in February and we were sponsored by the incomparable Pop Haydn.  The extra time before our ten to fifteen minute presentation has given us plenty of time to completely re-work our act at least twelve times.  We know the committee wants to see our skill set and so store-bought magic is eschewed.  So, we dropped our rather lengthy Hippity Hop Rabbits routine.  That could run – with the right crowd – fifteen minutes by itself.

We are thankful for finding Paper Cream to keep our very dry hands more moist and thereby allowing us to perform sleights like dealing seconds and bottoms.  We were getting complaints about our constant licking of our fingers before dealing cards or performing card maneuvers.  It got so bad we were asked to leave a party for licking one of our volunteers’ fingertips before she dealt the cards in a spelling card trick.  It is tough to say if it was the licking or the fact that we did a spelling card trick with someone named Ida.  Maybe the hostess didn’t appreciate us using a name that was so short.  Maybe she was jealous of our ability to triple lift.  Maybe we should have worn pants.  Maybe we should have shown up on time and not the next day, at 3:00 am.  Life is full of questions, just like the police.

We are very thankful for the invention of The Stripper Deck.  We use ours constantly and wonder how magicians survived without it.  We read that Dai Vernon once made his own using a shard of glass he found in a bathroom.  He was very industrious and wise.  We hope he washed his hands after making the deck, though.  We do wish they had a different name for the deck.  If you go to any of the stores here in West Hollywood and ask for a Stripper Deck, they treat you like you are crazy or they try to sell you something that is not a proper magic trick.  Because we take seriously our oath to not reveal magic secrets, we never correct the sales people or explain what we mean by the term “Stripper Deck.” If you ever come to our editorial offices / kitchen / bedroom / guest room / den, you will see piles of odd decks and personal-sized sample bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body cream.  If we are ever raided by the authorities, it will be difficult to explain that little corner of our little space.

We are most thankful for the friends we have in Magic.  Those who we left behind in Michigan and those we have met since coming to Hollywood.  Magicians share a common personality type that transcends the influences of environment and access to sunshine.  The magicians here have accepted us despite our pasty complexion and regional differences.  We would like to think they have been so ready to include us in their magic circles due to our exceptional skills and winning personality but fear it is really just because magicians are friendly and accepting.

Magic is a wonderful art daily brought to life and changed in exciting ways by people who are in it for all of the right reasons; and for that we are thankful.

Inside Magic Moves to Hollywood, Sees Pop Haydn, Doc Eason & Lindsay Benner

Lindsay Benner 2The move from sleepy Mystic Hollow, Michigan to Hollywood, California has been an adventure. The final two land-sea containers arrived early this morning and the crew worked through the night to get most of our props and sets delivered to a warehouse just a block from our new digs.  It looks like most of the equipment made it without damage although some of the animals were a bit bedraggled and those family members (and crew) that elected to travel the sea route in the containers probably now regret their decision.  They had hope of seeing the majestic Mississippi River and the Panama Canal from their makeshift bunks in the nicer of the two 53-foot containers.  We learned too late into the trip that the containers have no windows and are locked from the outside.

Hollywood reminds us of Mystic Hollow in so many ways.  People are very friendly, there is an appreciation for magic and it is hilly.

Unlike Mystic Hollow, Hollywood is always sunny and bright and people are out-of-doors walking and running and smiling in the sun (with appropriate levels of sunblock we hope).  We have taken to eating sushi often and while it was initially expensive, we found a cheaper method of getting our fresh fish fix.  We found a store called, “Hollywood Fish and Tackle.”  Great deals can be found and while the chefs are not out front and it is more of a take-out place, it offers great deals on great food.

Everyone here in Hollywood drinks water.  It is a strange thing to see how much water people drink.  They carry water with them at all times.  We have become paranoid about our lack of water drinking and while Diet Coke provides water – it is the first ingredient according to our close inspection of the can – it apparently is déclassé in this milieu.  We are rebels and will fight the cause of Diet Coke until they pry our shaking, jaundiced and likely dehydrated paws from our last can.

Coming to Hollywood means coming to the mecca of our art, The Magic Castle.  We are in the process of applying to be a magician member of the august body and whilst we wait, Pop Haydn has been very kind to extend us invitations to visit.

Pop Haydn should be given the Nobel Prize for Magic.  We had a chance to see his show at two of his completely packed shows in the W.C. Fields Bar downstairs in the Castle.  He does things that cannot be explained or effectively stolen.  We should know, we tried to do both.  His persona is so engaging and his skills make him the Michael Jordan of Magic – except he has more hair and is nicer to his fans.  He performed palming moves that we would not even consider trying on stage in a darkened theater without an audience.  Yet, he gracefully handled the deck and did the impossible within 18 inches of a very observant crowd.

Plus, he works the room so well.

So, he is like a Nobel Prize Laureate mixed with an incredible basketball player who has the skills of a brilliant (but sincere) politician.

Speaking of the W.C. Fields Bar, we got to see Doc Eason again.  Doc has been a fine supporter of Inside Magic over the last forty years and has continued to make magic seem magic even to magicians.  As many loyal readers (and even the few disloyal ones) know, Doc Eason is the Top Magic Bartender on this side of the equator.  It could be that he owns that title south of the globe’s midsection but we haven’t gone to any magic bars there yet.  His magic is impossible and seems spontaneous.  He gives the impression that every crowd is getting a special show – designed just to meet them where they sit.  We watched him three times in one evening (in Mystic Hollow we call that stalking) and he consistently worked the same wonderful routine, playing with everything the audience gave and ended strong and humble.  A true master.  He was kind enough to act as if he remembered us from our prior meetings back in Michigan; that shows he is a good guy.

Speaking of cute and endearing; we eat up cute.  If we were in Japan, we would cute overload and likely pop with a satisfied Hello Kitty sigh.  But we almost never see cute at The Magic Castle.  There is beautiful and amazing and grand, but very little cute.  But we saw cute of the best possible kind there the other night when Lindsay Benner took the stage at the Palace of Mystery.  While Ms. Benner does not perform magic per se, she is magical in her handling of the audience during her silent juggling routine.

Ms. Benner has combined great juggling skills with an adorable persona and tremendous stage presence to make one of the most enchanting shows we have seen in a while.  She introduced her act with an oversized text called “The Book of Love.”  She invited a very fortunate male volunteer to join her on stage and performed incredible juggling around and near that man.  She worked the room without a word and received a standing ovation from the sometimes jaded magic crowd.  If we ever wanted to have someone juggle sharp things by our head, she would be the one to do it.  You can read a nice article about her in the New York Times here.

Hollywood is Inside Magic’s new home.  Our temporary office – adjacent to a store that sells only specialized food for dogs – is still packed with crates and boxes that need to be handled.  While we do that, we will keep you apprised of all the goings-on.

Steve Carell to Star in Vegas Magician Flick

Image of Steve Carell - New Star of Magic-Themed Movie According to Variety, Steve  Carell of The Office, Bruce Almighty, and The 40 Year-Old Virgin fame, is bidding for the  ‘Burt Wonderstone’  role in a new magic-themed film.

The plot seems interesting: Burt Wonderstone is the typical Las Vegas magician working through some issues on his way back to the top.  Chief among those nagging concerns is his accidental killing of his partner.

Mr. Carell has cache and clout in Hollywood.  The script sat on shelves in New Line Cinema’s offices for four or five years looking for that special something to attract investors.

The film does not yet have a director, producer, key grip, best man, clapper-loader, caterer, or unit accountant but it has Steve Carrell.  Apparently the rest will follow in his footsteps.  Everyone likes a winner and Mr. Carrell’s film and television track record looks solid, bankable.


Continue reading Steve Carell to Star in Vegas Magician Flick