Monthly Archives: November 2015

Magic and Shabat Dinners

Friday night family dinners have been a tradition in our family as they are in many Jewish families. I remember taking our kids one Friday to my parents home, and the alternate Friday we would go to Phil’s parents home. Then came the time when our mothers couldn’t handle it anymore and I took over. When Julie got married they came to me one Friday and to her mother-in -laws the other Friday.   I was the only sibling left in Quebec in my family and Phil was the only one in  his family. Then about a month ago my daughter Julie said it’s her time to take over. I didn’t think it was necessary but she insisted and I felt guilty for about two weeks and now I am enjoying it immensely, and her mother-in-law seems to be enjoying it too, along with the other family members. Her young children help her set the table and we can enjoy them instead of being busy with the meal.

So what’s the relationship between Friday night dinners and magic, you might ask. When my daughter took over she said, “I’m happy to do it, but I am not making chicken soup with matzo balls and chicken. I like to experiment with food and try new stuff. It’ll be kosher, but it won’t be traditional.” That was fine with us, although with her permission I sometimes make chicken soup and Matzo balls and bring it over as my grandson loves it.

Last Friday night she attempted a Mexican Stew. It was delicious but before we even sat down she warned us that it did  not turn out the way it was supposedd to. Said she was disappointed. She used too much coconut milk so it took away from the spicyness etc. etc. and it should have this flavour but it has that flavour and on and on. We all thought it was great.

Being in the magic business, I could not help but relate it to performing magic. That’s why its a good idea never to tell your audience what is about to happen. You never really know what it going to happen. You only know what is supposed to happen. Let’s say you have worked out a routine, whereby you are on stage and produce a bouquet of flowers that turns into a dove. The flower production in itself is excellent but for some reason you can’t produce the dove. Do you get flustered and try to retrieve the dove again? Some might. You might fail again and the audience would know something is awry. If you had just forgot about it after the first attempt, and taken your bow as they were still clapping for the flower production, it might not have been such an extraordinary production as you would have liked, but the audience didn’t know that a bird was supposed to appear. They were happy with the flowers. Sure it would have been great had the flowers turned into a bird and even greater if the bird turned into two birds but you and the bird are the only two beings on the planet that knew that that was supposed to happen and the bird wasn’t telling.

I told my daughter not to fret over it, That she shouldn’t even have mentioned it. Her dinner was delicious “as is” and that she sounded like a magician explaining a failed trick, that the audience thought was a success.

Maybe I have been in the business too long!

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Ever Had A Magic Show Disaster

I, for one, never had a magic show. I once did a magic trick on Grandparents’ Day when my grandchildren were in daycare, and it went over big time, although the surprise was on me. I did the Thumbtip Blendo whereby they watched me place 4 tiny different coloured silks in my fist and told the the kids that I only had one silk in my hand and they had to shout out what colour they thought it was. I expected them to yell out all different colours but in unison they all screamed red. I was in shock and looked at my hand and saw a piece of red silk sticking out. I had to laugh. And I told my granddaughter to pull out the silk and it was one silk that had 4 different coloured squares on it. I think I wrote this before. It wasn’t a disaster, but it was funny, to me at least.

Another time, I was in the shop showing someone Kurious Kords (Professor’s Nightmare) which I have only done 10 million times, I’m sure. I hadn’t done it for awhile and when I tried to demo it, it just didn’t work. I tried  over and over and just couldn’t get it. I started laughing. Then I realized I had started with the long cord instead of the short one and did the trick. The father pointed out to his son that i did not panic, even when I was in trouble. Of course what he didn’t know is that I giggle when I panic, but that’s beside the point. I may have written about that too.

But I wanted to refresh your memory because someone came into the shop to buy magic for his grandson. He asked for specific things and told me he used to buy stuff here years ago. He was a teacher and sent many kids our way, for which I thanked him. He really liked magic but one day he did a trick and it went wrong. He said he never did magic again and got rid of all his magic He told me what it was and it wasn’t even terrible but he was embarrassed and lost confidence. We had a talk about failed tricks and I think maybe he’ll get back into it. Everytime I went to ring up the items, he’d say, wait, maybe I’ll take this too.

The point is, we all goof up one time or another. We just have to get over it. Ever hear of “Outs”? I don’t know if it’s still in print but it was written just for such occasions. I hope it doesn’t happen to you, but if it does, trust me, It’s not the end of the world!

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Magicians and Politicians

Today is a special day in Canada. We have a new Prime Minister. When I was younger, I remember policticians in our country as elderly white men, some English, some French. Our new Prime Minister brought about a big change. He is young, 42 I think, handsome, with 3 young children and a lovely wife. Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau was just a child when his father became Prime Minister. I met his father on election day at Hampstead school. I went in to vote for him and he had just voted and was leaving the building. I had my daugter Julie in my arms. I wished him luck and told him I was voting for him. We shook hands. He won. I was surprised as he always looked larger than life on TV etc, but he was hardly much taller than I.

The Cabinet Ministers were sworn in today, men, women, different nationalities, and young. Perhaps that is saying more about my age than theirs. In any case there seems to be renewed hope. Time wil tell I suppose, but the feeling is positive. When I watched the news this morning Jean Chretien, former Prime Minister, was being interviewed.

For a brief moment I had a flashback to a Magic Convention.  Dai Vernon, the 80 plus year old legend, with a lot of knowledge and experience. He was a living legend and everyone was trying to get to him, but he wasn’t interested in them. He was only interested in Phil, yes, Phil Matlin, because they were both honky tonk and ragtime piano players and Dai loved that music. even more than magic.

Women were not prominent on the magic scene back then. That’s changing too.

The famous names we knew and became friends with were the go to guys back then. Here are a few, Frank Garcia, David Roth, George Schindler, Al Cohen, Bob Little, Albert Gohman, Jay Marshall, Norm Nielsen, Hank Moorehouse, Jimmy Ray, Romaine, Magic Tom Auburn, Ali Bongo, Terry Seabrooke, Pavel, Paul Diamond, Phil Thomas, Denny Haney, and Derek Dingle, just to name a few. (Apologies to those we left off.) .They knew a lot of things and had a lot of experience that new magicians don’t. Of course they think they know everything and those that take the time to learn and study do learn. But its a new scene in magic as it is in politics. And some of the new magicians are great. Lets hope the same will be said about our new politicians.

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