Blue Men Invade Lance Burton’s Theatre

Inside Magic Image of Lance Burton, Master MagicianThere are two kinds of people in this world.  But both kinds would feel likely feel sad watching blue people occupy the only "legitimate theatre" in Las Vegas and former home Master Magician Lance Burton.

Those who cherish magic for magic's sake would be dismayed to see the stage once graced by lovely assistants, ever-changing illusions and one of the finest magicians of our era replaced by non-magicians.

The other group of people would be those who didn't really care about Lance Burton and had hoped that his award-winning show would be scrapped in favor or anoxic-complected, bald men who hit things and acted surprised but hate the idea that such an avant guard show would appear in such a magnificent and decidedly un-trendy theatre. 

We are of the first group and would hope to avoid those of the second. 

The Blue Men parachuted onto the plaza outside the Monte Carlo hotel today to announce their presence with authority while not speaking.   They don't talk.  They are just blue and they do funny things.  Kind of like big drunk Smurfs with shaved heads. 

For those hoping to have a blue themed evening, $179.00 buys a three-course meal and tickets to their show.  You can order from the special Blue Man Menu and even get aprèstheatre cocktails for that price.  Considering the regular tickets are priced at $125.00, this  is either a great deal or a way to sell really cheap food and watered down blue drinks. 

The Blue Men are returning to the Monte Carlo from the Venetian Hotel and replacing the dance group The Jabbawockeez.  The Jabbawockeez are temporarily performing down-under at the Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia awaiting their new theatre's construction at the Luxor.

 

The Year of Penn Continues

Inside Magic Image of Magician and Author Penn JillettePenn & Teller joined the select few included in the UNLV Entertainer & Artist Hall of Fame this weekend. Siegfried Fischbacher and Lance Burton attended, showing their support for the magic duo.

Former Nevada Lieutenant Governor, lounge singer and hall of fame member Lorraine Hunt-Bono presented the team their beautiful and pointy crystal trophies. Teller broke his silence to say "thanks" to the attendees.

Las Vegas Sun columnist John Katsilometes has deigned 2012 to be The Year of Penn:

I'd joked that 2012 was shaping up as the Year of Penn, given his ubiquitous-ness in the first 4 months of this year. Jillette even showed up at Marty Allen's 90th birthday party celebration at Palace Station on Saturday afternoon, joining a similarly odd collection of celebs and newsmakers onstage at Louie Anderson Theater that included Allen, Mayor Carolyn Goodman (presenting Allen with a key to the city), former mayor Oscar Goodman, Anderson and Allen's wife, Karon Kate Blackwell.

It does seem Penn is appearing in more places and garnering more television time. We have seen him on political talk shows, British stump the magician series and of course The Celebrity Apprentice. He survived last night's episode and thus continues his fund-raising for Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas foundation providing vocational training for our fellow citizens with intellectual disabilities.

"If I worked all the time I was on 'Celebrity Apprentice,' and gave all that money instead to Opportunity Village (laughs), they would do better," he says. "But I give them a lot of attention, no question about that, I have raised awareness. So you can't be too cynical about it."

Penn & Teller continue to entertain capacity crowds at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and offer the best magic per dollar spent in town.

Guest Essay: 99 Percent in Magic Unite!

Inside Magic Image of Couple Learning Magic's True SecretsMark Panner is not exactly a friend of Inside Magic but he did lend us money to pay the server bill two months ago. In return for his kindness, we said he could write an opinion piece for the web site. This is that piece. He tries to find parallels between the 99 percent movement and magic secrets. We do not agree with his logic, argument or conclusions but a deal is a deal.  We note that while we do not edit Mark's writing, we had to change the title from its original, "99 Percent in Magic Untie."

As I was watching the occupy movement do their thing, I thought about inequity and how unfair it is. One of the questions that kept crossing my mind was, how come the Vegas Headliners get the best secrets and technology and we are all stuck with the turn of the century – Last Century! –boxes and mirrors. It's not fair at all.

There is no other word for it other than inequity and unfairness (okay so maybe two words) but it expresses the vas deference between the 99% of magicians who need to use boxes screens or assistants (if you can afford them or are able to even go to where they congregate to ask if they would like to work for you). The elite one percent get to make things vanish, float, change, appear, grow or shrink without anything at all.

I have been looking into this question for a long time. It's been six months so far and I think I have some answers but they are not good ones.

When magic began, there was relative parity among all magicians. Magicians could make things vanish, float, appear, disappear, change or multiply with equal ability. They all used the same skills and tools. In the Iron Age, everyone used Irons and in the Bronze Age they did the same and no one had better tools than their neighbor. One caveman's Iron thing was the same size and shape and substance as the caveman next door and that did not change until the end of the "Ages" part of history ("Iron," "Bronze," "Dinosaur," "Bird," and "Trains") and the start of the Jet Age (around the time of the Wright Brothers).

Until the Jet Age, people entertained people in their villages and huts with essentially the same tricks either bought from a central store or made from common instructions. All magic plans used to be printed in blue ink and sold in rolls to magicians who wanted to build their own tricks from supplies they had around their cave or hut.

It took a while for this to die out. As late as the 1940s, for instance, Harry Blackstone used the same equipment as all magicians to make the standard "magic rabbit" appear or disappear. Magic rabbits were raised to be genetically identical so that all magicians could interchangeably use their props to do the rabbit tricks regardless of their location. A Boston rabbit would fit a Chicago rabbit gimmick and vice-a-versa. But there was a war on and many of the rabbits were actually made in the equivalent of factory farms where they were grown by strict military specifications to fit standard government issue magic props as used by the professionals (such as Blackstone) or the amateur at home or the magicians who entertained the troops during the battles around the world.

With the advent of the space race, the "elite" magicians began to insist on using "different" methods to accomplish the effects performed by so many. "Good enough for government work" was an expression first used to denigrate the magicians who were forced to use surplus magic tricks left over from the war effort. The elite used bigger bunnies (or with different colored ears or faces) and insisted on different methods to make tricks happen.


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Incomprehensible Exposure = Exposure?

Inside Magic Image of Red Headed Girl with Two Real FishThere is one thing we stand firmly against here at Inside Magic and that is exposure of magic secrets.  We don't like it, won't eat near it, won't let our kids go to school with it, and certainly would never let it kiss us full on the mouth, ever. Given our distaste for this abominable practice, a casual reader of this magic news outlet might be forgiven for thinking that all of our loathing was used up and that we loved every other thing in large quantities.  Nope, we dislike people who incompetently expose magic almost as much as we dislike the more proficient secret leakers.

There are several programs on the internets that allow a very lazy web master or mistress to publish articles about any topic in seconds.  Better yet, these programs can write the articles to neatly incorporate trending Google search terms to suck traffic to their owners' website to generate the all-important pay-per-click revenue.  The programs are not smart but quick.  They search the webs for real content about any given subject and then steal from the articles located to generate or "spin" an allegedly unique bit of content. 

Fresh content is essential to making one's website appealing to Google.  Fresh content that contains key words used in searches moves the site up the Google Page Rank chart.  But there is apparently no requirement that the fresh content containing key words make any sense at all.

We received a Google Alert this hour for an article meeting our pre-set search terms.  We try to search for magic news constantly and have layers of filters to get breaking stories about "Harry Houdini" rather than a professional athlete surviving a close game with "an escape worthy of Houdini."   The notice we just received met up with several of our Google Alert terms and so the automated sms notification system alerted us to possible breaking news.

Here is the article in part.  It ostensibly exposes the Svengali Deck.  Perhaps it does, we cannot tell.

The Svengali deck is made up of 47 business cards, 23 that are most of duplicate and are also slightly shorter as opposed to 23 which are all distinct and slightly longer. There are actually coin tips, card tips, mind-reading tips, rope tips, all different types of tricks easily together with objects that you’ve in the pockets as well as lying savings around your house. If you need a number of really straightforward magic tricks to master which you can try in your own friends the two observing ones is going to be perfect in your case.

We are not trying to be harsh.  Maybe this is one author's earnest attempt to expose a very commercial trick and it falls short because the author has yet to master the English language.  Or, maybe there is a different Svengali deck — one made with 47 business cards, 23 of which are most of duplicate of something.  We have checked with all of our reliable sources and no one is familiar with a Svengali deck made of business cards that are either most of or not most of duplicate of anything.  Yes, we recall that Burling Hull claimed to have created a deck that was part Mene-Tekel, part Two-Way Forcing and part Brainwave but to the best of knowledge Mr. Hull never released the deck and even if he did, it wouldn't be one of those "really straightforward magic tricks to master which you can try in your own friends the observing ones is going to be perfect in" anyone's case.


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View-Master, Magic & Lance Burton

Inside Magic Image of Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable Banner AdWe have a GAF View-Master Fetish and we are obsessed with magic.  It is rare (and slightly dangerous) when those two passions collide in one story.  Today is one of those very rare days.

Lawrence Leung  serves the good people of Australia as skeptic par excellence.  His new six-part series Unbelievable! has been described as “Mythbusters meets Ghostbusters.”

In this weeks episode, the curious host looks to “fool a master magician.”  The advertisement claims he will learn the tricks of the trade from Las Vegas magicians, pickpockets and neuroscientists to create an effect that will fool magicians.

The theme of the show and this week’s episode are sufficiently magic-related to evoke our interest and coverage on this august magic news site.  But what of the GAF View-Master angle, you ask.

Mr. Leung has the ultimate web site design for those of us who could spend hours studying, playing with, and talking about the stereoscopic viewing wonder that we keep in a well-worn leather holster attached to our belt as we type.

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