Penn Talks Logistics of the Magic Show

Inside Magic Image of Magician and Author Penn JillettePenn’s Sunday School podcast is not for everyone but if you are an adult, into magic and, most importantly, into logistics, it is for you.

To say we love logistics would be an understatement of unwieldy proportions.

If logistics were a woman, we would flirt with it and hold our eye contact for an uncomfortably long period of time.  If it were a child, we would adopt it, put it in special schools to be taught by singing nuns and far from all evil.  If it were a dog, we would also adopt it and send it to special obedience schools with singing nun trainers.  We really love logistics.

We have seen David Copperfield on tour in cities all over America (that makes us a fan not a stalker – the clump of his hair that we bought on eBay makes us a collector, not a stalker either.  We have no innocent explanation for our ownership of a salad fork he once used, however).

The Copperfield show is always great but our favorite part is watching the load-in and load-out from and into the huge semi-tractor trailer bearing Mr. Copperfield’s face.  We cannot see that much because his crew is very discreet in their moving of the big crates and rigging.  Still, it holds our attention for a good hour or so.

When we were very young, we got to work for a day as a roustabout for the Clyde Beatty Cole Brothers Circus during its performance in Vero Beach, Florida.  We spent the morning helping to set up the grandstands, moving chairs, lifting things, pulling things and watching the big tent appear like magic.  We admired how the bosses knew exactly what to do and in what order.  We imagine they learned from experience to put all the stands and chairs into the area before they erected the tent walls; or figured out in advance to get the tent poles up and positioned within the holes before hoisting the canvas up.  They were pros and they knew logistics.  We were in love.

When Penn Jillette describes the behind the scenes of the Las Vegas Penn & Teller show on his weekly podcast, Penn’s Sunday School, we smile involuntarily.

This week’s podcast made us smile like a goof – as our Irish grandmother would say.

We usually listen whilst walking great distances to get our cardiovascular workout and test the range of the court-ordered anklet we wear.  We used to think that people were intolerant and judgmental but now realize that the strange looks we received were likely because of our glowing goofy smile – and probably the anklet (autographed by Lindsay Lohan).

In his latest episode, Penn recounted an experience from a recent show at the Rio Resort and Casino’s Penn & Teller Theater.  We won’t ruin the story for you but it has to do with a specially gimmicked jacket that resulted in him being fooled twice unbeknownst to the audience.  He recounted his internal dialogue as he tried to figure out what was happening whilst he was on stage performing a different effect. An incredible story and if you love logistics, you too will smile with the best of the goofs as you listen.

As we mentioned, his podcast has adult language and themes (whatever an adult theme is) so we do not recommend it for our younger readers or those who are easily offended but for those of us with very thick skin – in our case, from the incessant rubbing of the anklet – it is a wonderful chance to hear about the preparations and logistics of a big time magic show.

You can subscribe to the podcast through Apple’s iTunes store or directly through Penn’s Sunday School here.

Houdini Returns: Medium Connects with Great Magician

Inside Magic Image of Headline

We read with great interest an article on the incredibly reliable Weekly World News web site, "Houdini Speaks from Beyond the Grave." The article is probably not totally true but says Houdini has made contact through professional medium John Edward. Houdini provides several predictions to prove his authenticity. Like we said, it is probably not true but still interesting.

We live by few rules as magician / magic writer persons. First, "if it bleeds, it leads." The shocking and graphic stories go to the front of the line. In this way, we are very much like Disney World. The more grotesque or disgusting a person is (either in mannerisms or odor) the more likely he or she will be permitted to cut ahead of others standing in the Florida Sun.

Our second rule gets us in trouble, sometimes. "When in doubt, don't leave it out." Some news sources will pass on stories that have only a single source, seem self-serving or seem highly unlikely.

If it wasn't for Inside Magic, you would never know what got passed over. We publish the stuff others won't because they have "standards" or insist on "some basis in reality." Not this major magic periodical. If it wasn't for this policy, none of the following would have found a voice on the endless maze of copper tubing we call the internets.

1. President Magic Will Be Criminalized

This seemed within the realm of possible when we printed it several years ago. Our source assured us that the hobby and profession enjoyed by millions was about to be made illegal and practitioners would face jail time. Imagine how embarrassed we were to learn that the headline was technically true but just barely. It was the president of a local fraternal lodge that made the statement. And that he actually said, "Magic should be taught to criminals as a practical skill to boost self-esteem and confidence." Whether he intended jail birds to learn escape techniques is still the subject of litigation and debate within the lodge.

2. Ching Ling Foo Not Who He Seemed

For pure volume, this article should rank high on our Google search results. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Ching Ling Foo was actually a magician from China and not really Billy Robinson, former assistant to Kellar and Thurston. Mr. Robinson used the derivative name Chung Ling Soo to hide his Anglo identity and perform until he was killed performing the Bullet Catching Trick &ndash not the Cups and Balls as we also erroneously reported. We agree now that it did not make sense that a person could be killed when his or her Cups and Balls routine went "Horribly Wrong" and that we should not have guessed at what happened.

 

3. David Blaine's Box Falls Kills Paul McCartney and Others

We had to go with it. Yes, we could have immediately verified the story by looking at the live web cam showing every second of the 44 days of boredom induced and experienced by the American magician's endurance test. But we were writing from our phone while waiting in line at the 7-11 convenience store. We note that several of the letters in Mr. Blaine's name alone take forever to type out on a cellphone key pad. We were lucky to get the story out at all.


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Penn Jillette’s How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker – Magical

Magic News and Review of Penn Jillette How to Cheat Your Friends at PokerYou can call us “moronic,” “unethical,” “psycho,” or “scum-bag-esque” but we admit we love to be verbally abused — especially in writing.

But that’s not the reason we loved — absolutely and in all connotations of the word — Penn Jillette’s How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker.

The book is based on material putatively provided by an old acquaintance of Mr. Jillette, called by the nom de plume Dickie Richard.  Mr. Jillette was permitted to create any pseudonym for his source and for some reason chose the name “Dickie Richard.”

Our therapist says were obsessed with these types of things but the name gave us pause.

After all, the last name Richard is rather rare in the United States.  The surname is most often “Richards.”  According to the U.S. Social Security Death Registry, there are a mere 13,353 folks in their database of over 77 million with the last name spelled in this manner compared with fewer than 40,000 for “Richards.”(Interestingly, there are only nine records for “Jillette”).

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What Were We Thinking

Lindsay Lohan Star of New Show

This is the stream of thought that went along with our writing of an article about a magic lecture from John Luka.

John Luka is the Head Muckety-Muck in our Pantheon of Magicians and so we were shocked to receive his invitation to learn the secrets of a certain magician’s act.

We knew it wasn’t a lecture by the magician in question – after all, what professional magician actually lectures on tricks he or she performs for a living.

We assumed, therefore, John Luka had crossed over to the Dark Side. Out of our respect for Mr. Luka, we immediately prepared to stick with him like glue or something equally sticky but preferably non-organic. We have no pride but at least we’re shiftless.

But wait, we read more of Mr. Luka’s email note to us and learned we were wrong. We were completely wrong. Mr. Luka hadn’t moved to the Dark Side. We wish we had read his entire email message before we reacted so quickly to abandon our principles and publish an expose of every magic trick we know.

To all of our brethren and cistern in magic, we apologize for exposing your secrets. We take some solace in thinking that our excited writing made the whole 982 page book unreadable or at least unwieldy. Plus, when we get nervous we revert to our first language.

Nonetheless, the book All of the Magic Secrets Ever is currently available on Amazon.Com. One reviewer noted:


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