What Does Magician David Copperfield Pack?

Inside Magic Image of David CopperfieldSome magic-oriented questions keep us up at night.  We toss and turn – our own body, to be clear – and stare at the top of the tent, wondering things, magical things.

Last night (and we’re writing this on our Palm – not the ancient electronic organizer but our own palm – so it is still last night technically) we wondered aloud, “What is the strangest thing David Copperfield has ever packed for a trip?”

We should have kept the question to ourselves and not uttered it aloud.  That wasn’t polite to the other campers (we call ourselves “campers” because we’re sly and think that gives us an edge if we are ever taken to the hoosegow by the coppers for setting up a small circus tent in a vacant field near the Ralph’s grocery store over by the Citgo across from the Bumper Bumper auto repair shop).

Nonetheless, we wondered aloud about David Copperfield’s packing for trips and were reminded by one of our fellow campers that David Copperfield was both a fictional character who was fascinated by cake and a magician who has toured the globe.  The camper – who will remain nameless because we were never introduced – suggested we be more specific in our wondering.

We knew the David Copperfield about whom we were wondering and so we ignored the camper and went on wondering.  We could not wait until the public library opened to have access to the internet and learn the answer to our wondering.

We have seen his show 17 times so far.  It is by far one of the best ever.  We wouldn’t see something 17 times if it was terrible or even just good.  For us to see something more than twice, it has to be great.  That’s why we don’t have mirrors.

By the time we woke up – so we guess we did fall asleep a little but it wasn’t good sleep – we had about a thousand questions written up and down our arm, extending from our palm.  They ranged from questions about David Copperfield’s packing habit, his wardrobe choices, what kind of plane he owned, how many shows a week he performed at the MGM hotel in Las Vegas, why there were no beans left, how often the dumpsters behind Ralph’s were cleaned, who owned the tent, why lettuce grows in a ball most of the time, and why David Copperfield bought an island in the Bahamas.

We suspect but cannot prove that some of those questions were from other campers.  The handwriting and spelling did not match our own and the topic seemed far afield from our original inquiry.  We suspect, as well, there are other questions written beyond our shoulder and down our back but do not have a mirror to verify this suspicion.  We are pretty sure we did not write those backside questions either.  Our arms have limited movement, restricted, we suspect (again), by ligaments and tendons that bridge joints that make certain writing on one’s own back virtually impossible.

Once we got a shower and went to the library, we were able to look up the answer to the David Copperfield questions.  We learned what he considered the strangest thing he ever packed for a trip, all about his plane and his island and his clothing choices on a website called Travel and Leisure.

It turns out the website and magazine by the same name but with spaces between the words, actually asked Mr. Copperfield the questions we were pondering last night.

Check out the full interview here.

Learn more about Mr. Copperfield’s spectacular show here.

Read about the various growing stages of lettuce vis-à-vis the latitude of growth here.

Finally, read about how to get permanent marker off one’s arm and back here.

Errors in Magic – As Taught by NASA

Apollo - Soyuz Test Crew We don’t know about you and what you love.  From some of the emails we receive daily at InsideMagic (editor@insidemagic.com) we do know that there is a wide variety of love in the Inside Magic community.  Some of the love is even magic related, so that’s kind of nice.

We received a link to a NASA document that has nothing to do with magic at all.  But in a special way, it is instructive to us magicians who on occasion (or always, in our case) make mistakes in the presentation of our tricks.  You can find the document here.  We posted a picture of the Apollo – Soyuz Command Test Team for reference.  It was a close call for these folks but we learned a lot about how to keep later astronauts and cosmonauts safer.

The document could be seen as overly scientific and technical — because it is.  It has charts, pictures of people and places and rockets and molecules — but it also has a great message.  It is the study of errors and accidents involving several unintentional hypergolic fluid related spills, fires, and explosions from the Apollo Program, the Space Shuttle Program, and the Titan Program.  The Titan Program deals with America’s ICBMs and so they could be sensitive to unintended spills, fires and explosions.  We’re no rocket scientist, we’re just sayin’.

Hypergolic fluids are fluids that can immediately catch fire, explode or poison if they come in contact with certain materials.   That is great for rockets but terrible for hand-lotion or shampoo.

(Speaking of technical papers, we did write a 12-page technical document for the cosmetic industry titled “Bad Things to Put in Your Hair.”  (Quinlan, Tim. 1979. Bad Things to Put in Your Hair,  Nat ShampooSci. 5 Suppl:127–129.) No one asked us to write the document but we thought it important and were trying out a new electric typewriter at Sears on a Saturday and no one said we couldn’t.  We had to pay for the paper we used and the ribbon and the eraser tape).

The NASA document is 100 pages long (including a list of acronyms) but concludes thusly:

Some type of human error can be traced to nearly every studied incident as a root cause, whether it be an error in the design phase or an error prior to or during operational use of hardware containing hypergols. Humans are most definitely not perfect and even when the most knowledgeable personnel are intimately involved in the design phase or during an operation, mistakes can be made and critical items can be overlooked. One can deduce, however, that most incidents happen during some sort of dynamic operation.

Given the pages of errors and very serious injuries and death related to the use of Hypergols, the authors ask if NASA should continue to use the compounds.  The answer is yes, but we should learn from our mistakes.

So much for the NASA and their rather serious, downer study on how we need to be careful when launching people into space.

Now we turn to the magic part.  Setting aside flash paper — a substance that can cause injury (and according to an article by Joshua Jay, death) — we don’t deal with much in the way of explosive materials.  Our tricks are based on coins and cards.  That’s pretty much it.  We can get a paper cut or maybe have a coin stuck in our nostril but that is about it.  Our mistakes do not result in injury or death but embarrassment and shame.

And yet, we learn from those mistakes.

We were performing a Classic Force with an antiquated and sticky deck of cards yesterday and missed it entirely.  (We’re speaking in code so only magicians know what we mean).  We had to do a quick corrective maneuver like a palm to the side (more code) to get a satisfactory ending to the trick.  Some how the selected card appeared in our pocket.  A miracle.  A mistake and failure but saved by a risky move distracted by intense, almost creepy eye-contact.

What did we learn?

We learned how to do a side palm almost one-handed (more code but if you think about it, and you are a magician you’ll be impressed but you shouldn’t be, we got lucky), and we learned how not to perform a Classic Force.  These were real lessons for us.  We wanted to perform one of our beloved tricks but didn’t have a deck that would work.  We should have performed a different trick — after all, that’s what happened at the end.  Our pride led us astray.  We figured we could do a Classic Force with a deck that had been used for years and could not be properly fanned.

Oddly, that was not our only mistake in our bazillion year career of magic.  But we have learned from each.  Don’t look down the muzzle of a flash wand, ever.  Don’t toss balls of flaming flash paper towards the audience.  Get a good grip before you riffle cards for a force or selection.  Double check your stack – always.  Never let your animals wait too long.  Don’t pull coins from a child’s ear that may be infected and thus sensitive.  Have a key nearby if you’re going to do a handcuff escape – just in case.  Don’t try fire-eating unless you are trained by someone who knows what they are doing and even then don’t.  Juggling broken glass bottles looks fun but there is a risk of quick and deep cuts to the essential veins and arteries around your wrists.

We’re guessing you have lessons you’ve learned as well.  Share them with your fellow performers — don’t expose secrets, but tell us what you learned.  We all benefit.

Thank you to the Inside Magic reader who sent the Hypergols paper.  It was fascinating reading and inspiring.

Magical Guinness World Record

We have an inappropriate love for the Piddingtons.

Actually just the late Lesley Piddington.

They were a psychic team from a few decades ago but, boy howdy, did they do it up.  Ms. Piddington, our secret crush, once received a psychic transmission whilst flying on a Stratocruiser plane high above the military base in which her husband, Sidney, and other judges broadcast their thoughts psychically to his beloved.  You can read more about the dynamic couple here.

The Piddingtons never claimed to have psychic powers but for our money, they were the best (and our money isn’t much, we just invested in a company that is like 23 and Me but is just for people who like to send their DNA to people.  They don’t get results back but we figure there is a niche market for this service and we emptied our 401(k) to get behind it.  There are very little overhead costs since we don’t keep the DNA or even handle it but write back (in form letters) that their DNA is “pretty” or “handsome” or “smart” or “honest”).  We are starting a new affiliate for people who want to send DNA (salvia only) for their pets.  We write back that the DNA is “pretty” or “handsome” or “smart” or “honest.”  We’re thinking of opening a third affiliate to reach people who don’t want to send DNA but can send toenail clippings — personally, we want no part of that because 1) it is gross; 2) who is going to open the packages; 3) the smell; 4) how do we know they are not just sending random toenail clippings found at the gym or in a back alley where toenail clippers are alleged to “hang” and practice their art?)

Well, a long distance transference of information is one thing, but the transference of a person is something quite different.  The magician Scott Tokar  broke the world record according to our favorite beer company (it is a medical fact that one glass of Guinness has all the nutrients and protein needed for a day in Ireland and some islands off of Ireland) was just accomplished by Corteva Agriscience, A Division of DowDuPont & Tradeshow Magician, Scott Tokar (both USA) in Boone, Iowa, at the Farm Progress Tradeshow on 28 August 2018. By the way, we are well aware that the records book and the beer are not connected – but we can dream, n’est-ce pas?

“Magician Scott Tokar highlighted the many record yields achieved by customers of Pioneer by setting another record at the show – the Farthest Teleportation Illusion. Tokar wowed show-goers by transporting his assistant more than 936 feet from the Corteva Agriscience tent to the Pioneer tent. Michael Empric, Adjudicator with Guinness World Records, authenticated the record as did representatives of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.”

You can check out the very impressive information here.

Visit Mr. Tokar’s very impressive website here.

Magic, Mystery and Houdini in New Play

The Girl Who Handcuffed HoudiniThe Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini was a comic book from 2017 and is now set to be a multi-level New York play with three different takes on the story.

According to the website ComicBook.com and The Hollywood  Reporter, detective Minky Woodcock, star of Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime’s graphic novel The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini, is starring on the stage of New York City’s Theater 80.  The show opens today and runs until November 10th and according to our theater critic, “sounds really cool.”

Our theater critic has not seen the show yet and our budget (and certain court obligations) will not allow him to travel to New York City to see the presentation.  But Cyrus (our critic goes by only one name – often the same name on consecutive days) likes that there are essentially three different plays in one show.

The show is presented on three different floors of the Theater 80 and audience members get to pick whether they will take on the roles of spiritualists, pragmatists, or the guests of Houdini himself.   The show will present differently according to the role they select.  We don’t know if the producers thought of this but that could actually make audience members want to see the show two more times.   They probably did think of that but in case they didn’t we think it is an unexpected benefit of staging the play from three different perspectives for audiences.

“Minky was created by artist, author, and playwright Cynthia von Buhler. Minky is a private detective in the 1920s with a fondness for rabbits. She debuted in the four-issue miniseries The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini in 2017, which earned critical praise. The hardcover collection of the series released in August.”

According to ComicBook.com, Minky is played by Pearls Daily who was not only the model for the comic book but also named Miss Coney Island in 2018.

Cyrus says another benefit of the show being shown on three different levels is that audience members will want to see the show again and again.  We couldn’t tell if Cyrus was being sarcastic because he knew we said that earlier in this article or if he didn’t read what we wrote and just happened to mention the exact same thing we had mentioned.

We don’t like Cyrus – the name, not the person.  The name is so old-fashioned and hardly in keeping with the personality Cyrus is trying to pull off using the name.  He is going for sort of a Freddie Mercury meets Ryan Gosling image – neither of which fit the name Cyrus.  When he called himself Aunt Bee (a misspelled version of the co-star from The Andy Griffith Show), he adopted a Robert Redford / Paul Newman / Madam Curie air that frankly scared us.

We are glad that week is over.  Plus he didn’t play Robert Redford and Paul Newman from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but used Redford from The Natural and Newman from the logo of the popular salad dressing brand.  Madam Curie was played pretty much as we all remember her, riddled with nuclear radiation and speaking French with a decided wheeze.

Cyrus doesn’t speak French, so that was quite a trick.  Of course, we don’t speak French either so he could have been just making up the words he spoke and wrote.  In which case, we apologize in advance to the actors and director of King Lear about which Aunt Bee wrote a several page critique in French soon to be published here even though there was very little magic performed in the show.

Check out the Theater 80’s website for show times and tickets here.

Magician Matt Vizio is Different

Matt VizioHow is magician Matt Vizio different than other magicians?

We watched him tonight at the Peller Theatre at the Magic Castle and sensed something was different than others we had seen in the same venue over the years.  Somehow, he was different, better than those we have seen before.

We learned more about what made him different after the show when we discovered the front row consisted of people who did not speak English all that well.  Actually, it appeared they did not speak English beyond a few polite phrases.

Mr. Vizio is an accomplished magician and stand-up comedian and one of those two talent sets require the ability to communicate effectively with the audience generally and with the volunteers specifically.  So what would he do?  How do you do a Confabulation routine if your volunteer doesn’t speak the language of the routine?

If it had been us, we would have just plowed along hoping to get some words we could use.  But then again, we are not Mr. Vizio.

He was able to change his act immediately and present a parlor show using volunteers from the audience (2 out of 3) who didn’t use English as a primary language. He did it with class and kindness and though he knew they could not understand him, he performed with them as perfect partners in a very entertaining act.

It was an act different in content than what he had planned but no one noticed.  Not even our trained eyes saw that he was changing his presentation to meet the situation.

We supposed that all true professionals of our Art could do the same.  But the fact that we have seen it so rarely happen demonstrated how few true professionals there are in our Art.

We have seen alleged professionals lose their temper, curse, and call the audience volunteer a liar as a trick goes wrong. And these performers are the putative top of our pack.

But Mr. Vizio didn’t need to attack the volunteers. He worked with them, silently when necessary, to perform effects he thought or hoped might work in that situation.  And last night, at one particular show, he was correct.  It is a small sample size – one show – but we bet he would succeed in a similar situation virtually every time.  He is focused, polite and clearly involved with his audience.

Mr. Vizio is professional to the core, never embarrassing his volunteers specifically or the audience generally, but always ready to craft the show to meet the audience on their terms.

We could talk about the tricks he performed but they may be different from those you see when you visit the Peller Theatre this week. The magic you will see is all Mr. Vizio.

Inside Magic Rating: Five out of Five. Our Highest.

Check out Mr. Vizio’s website herehttp://mattvizio.com