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Ben Seidman: And the Winner Is
By Rory Johnston
From touring with his comedy magic and pickpocketing, to consulting and performing on high-profile television shows, to being named Princess Cruise Lines Entertainer of the Year, Ben Seidman has been quite busy. Yet he may only be getting started.
Off Stage Magic
By Ben Seidman
Ben Seidman provides instruction in two of his favorite close-up routines: an impromptu Coins Across and the Invisible Card to Box, along with the utility move that makes the latter possible.
FISM 2015: Rimini
By Wittus Witt
Every three years, the Federation Internationale des Societes Magiques convenes in a different city around the world. This July, the 26th FISM conference was held in Rimini, Italy. As usual, it was a week of memorable magic, and not a little controversy.
YouTube - The Inside Track
By Richard Wiseman
The videos of psychology professor and magician Richard Wiseman have received millions of hits on YouTube, as viewers marvel at his baffling, entertaining experiments with what happens in our minds. Here, he tells how he became so prominent on the Internet, and how you can, too.
Plus Updates on...
Bonus Content for the August Issue...
- Penn & Teller: Fool Us on television and Penn & Teller on Broadway.
- Jeanette Andrews' Thresholds.
- The Color Changing Flower Bed art installation.
- A remembrance of Tim Deremer.
- MAGIC Magazine "Conventions at a Glance."
- All 24 of the products reviewed in the August issue, plus 453 reviews from previous issues, are all now available at the fully searchable "Marketplace" section of M360.
- Ben Seidman performs his beer bottle routine on Magic Outlaws.
- Links to Richard Wiseman's YouTube videos of Colour Changing Card, Vanishing Head, The Prediction, and more.
Twenty-four products are reviewed this month by Michael Claxton, Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Jared Kopf, Francis Menotti, Peter Pitchford, John Wilson:
The '80s Called... They Want Their Magic Book Back, Vol. 1 by Jonathan Friedman.
Open Triumph by Dani DaOrtiz
ReBox by Rian Lehman
What-SAT by Martin Lewis
Out of Sleight by Cameron Francis
Coil by Jay Sankey
Cody Fisher's Killer Prediction
The False Deals Project by George McBride
Chardistry by Daniel Chard
Unbelievalope by Jeff Kaylor
Storyteller by Ravi Mayar
Imprint by Jason Yu
Horoscope by Chris Congreave
The Wonder Screen
CD Magic Volume 1 by Jordan Gomez
Anytime Anywhere Cups & Balls by Brian Watson.
Psychic Chess by Brian Watson
Prism Stack by Wayne Goodman
The Houdini Correspondence File by Wayne Wissner
Mentalist Symbol Pack by Anton James
Pop Change by Julio Montoro and SansMinds
Heist by Jack Wise
Reduction by Nicholas Lawrence and SansMinds
C3 by Nojima
Finn Jon's Esoterica: The Thumb Tie
My ideas for the thumb tie lean toward impromptu or near-impromptu magic, and tape is a common item that can be easily accessed in many places. The functionality of the impromptu version depends directly on the quality of the tape used, and it should only be attempted using the right kind of tape. In this effect, the trickster gets a member of the audience to help in taping his thumb and index finger together to form a ring. The "ring" is properly examined, and there is no doubt that the fingers are stuck to each other. The magicians then takes a metal ring, the handle of a coffee mug, a wristwatch, or any other closed object and links it onto the loop created by his securely taped fingers. In the same manner, he can unlink the objects without breaking the tape.
Loving Mentalism: Magazine Test of the Stars
The theme for this month's article could well be "necessity is the mother of invention." Leading UK mentalist Kennedy had a magazine test that featured regularly in his shows. The plot was that one spectator, drawing an X at random on a page in a magazine, was somehow able to read the mind of another spectator. During one especially unlucky performance, Kennedy's gimmick snapped, and so did his second, reserve gimmick! Thanks to some inspired improvisation, he found a way to bring the routine to a successful conclusion, and it's explained in this month's "Loving Mentalism." The result is a wonderfully subtle and deceptive magazine test that requires no gaffed items at all and can be done impromptu.
Bent on Deception: Sketch Up
Comedy and magic are basically the same thing. Think about it. What's the difference between a joke and a trick? The key elements of both are misdirection, timing, and surprise. A punch line is the same as the climax of a trick. A great joke tag is the same as a kicker ending. I think when most comedy magicians think about their comedy, they tend to compare it to stand-up; they pepper a routine with one-liners and think they're done. But magic routines are actually a lot closer to sketch comedy than stand-up. So, let's talk sketch.
The Monk's Way: Open-Scenario Palm Addition
In 1995, I watched Larry Jennings perform the Open Travelers on his video Thoughts on Cards. Jennings began by introducing the premise of an "invisible palm" and asking his spectators if they had ever heard of palming. He then performed a casual demonstration of palming to establish the idea further. These introductory lines and actions are designed to sensitize the viewer to the nature of palming and its value and limitations. I noted that during this casual recitation, defenses are down. The trick has not begun, the vigilant eyes are not quite focused, and attention is moderate - our audience is in pre-trick mode and psychologically they are not working to unravel anything yet. But the performer can be working to get far ahead.
Classic Correspondence: J. Samuel & Son to Carl Rosini
An agent once remarked that audiences had trouble understanding Horace Goldin's patter because of his strong accent. This comment convinced Goldin to eliminate most of the patter from his act and perform silently. He developed a performing style in which the tricks were performed at a lightning-fast pace, something that was unheard of at the time. Another successful vaudevillian was Carl Rosini, who achieved success by performing classic routines such as the Egg Bag and the Thumb Tie. Eight years after Goldin's death, Carl Rosini visited his friend's grave and was saddened to discover that there was no grave marker of any kind. Carl took it upon himself to rectify this injustice by ordering an elaborate monument from J. Samuel & Son of London.
For What It's Worth: Bumblespeak & Blather
Magic is like theater, but not really. The requirements of a magic show do not allow for the "unity of action" that Aristotle defined as the hallmark of good theater. Magicians need to do sneaky things to carry out the plot of a magic trick, and sometimes the structure of a routine has to go a little "sideways" to allow for those requirements. Scrupulous scripting creates a natural sense of beginning, middle, and end, and adds connectivity where none exists. Many magicians don't believe in writing scripts. They like routines to seem "unscripted." Typically, they bumblespeak their way through a new routine onstage and then modify it slowly over time. This can be an inefficient and painful process - for everyone. The spoken word should seem unscripted, but it should be scripted.
Walkabout Soup: Background Checks
It's like that old saying about the difference between magicians and card cheats: "If a magician screws up the move, he'll be embarrassed. If a card cheat screws up the move, he'll be dead." From personal experience, I can add another point in between those extremes: "If a fake parapsychology researcher screws up the move, he'll waste days of preparation and filming, piss off the entire production crew, ruin the season finale to a really great show, and probably not get hired again for an Australian TV show any time soon."