No, it’t not the name of a new trick, although there are tricks in the genre if you’re reading the post because that’s what you were looking for. For you, I’ll name a few as I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed. There’s my favorite, My Pet Boris Magic Spider, which also includes cockroaches in case spiders are not scarey enough for you. It originated with Jim Pace’s, The Web, which was modernized to be in sync with smart phone users, like there is anyone who isn’t these days. Even I, who hasn’t learned to use a land phone properly (ask Phil) have one. And then there’s the Lady Bug, which is cute rather than scarey and has a lot of appeal. Then there’s the Butterfly Blizzard, if you consider a butterfly a bug, and Woody Aragon’s Bumble Bees to name a few. (How’s that for sneaking in a bit of advertising?)
No, The Magic Bug, is something like the flu. Some people get it and some don’t. And some people get it real bad. It can happen at any age. It depends when you’re exposed to it. I have youngsters who phone me from their cell phones at lunch time, to see if I have the latest effect from Shin Lim. These kids are up to the minute. They know everything. Almost. Frank Garcia? Jeff McBride? Michael Ammar? These kids don’t know them but I introduce them because they should know about them and they thank us for it after they’ve bought one of their DVDs. I met many of these kids with the magic bug when I was at Sorcerer’s Safari Magic Camp in Ontario with Phil a few years ago. I know those kids must be heartbroken to hear that the camp is no more. From 8 to 18 boys and girls, whenever you saw them they had a deck of cards in their hands. I think it was Lee Asher who said, “A deck of card to these kids are like a pack of cigarettes to prisoners.” They had the bug, the magic bug! These kids were fortunate to have been kids when the camp was there. The magic and the experience did wonders for them. The owners, Jan and Mike Segal, were fantastic and the counsellor’s, many who started off as campers themselves were also bitten by the bug. So if you have to catch a bug, Magic is the one to get but be warned. It stays with you for life!
We all know what magic fingers can do. They can make a coin vanish or appear into or out of thin air. They can make that coin roll across their fingers effortlessly and then make another one appear. They can make a signed card vanish and miraculously appear stuck on the ceiling. I watched Shim Lim change the colour of a card from blue to red and then change the whole deck to red and then vanish the whole deck. Magic to be sure.
Last night I saw magic fingers and magic hands. Phil had a show, a ragtime show at a senior residence. He had played there before. It was so packed that the girl in charge had to put chairs in the stage area, behind him. I sat in one of those chairs, directly behind him a few feet away. Usually I sit at the back so I can let him know if the sound is working, etc. This time there wasn’t even standing room. I think it was his best concert ever. The people went wild. Everybody sang and Phil’s hands were flying fast and furious. All I saw was that bass hand going back and forth and he’s not even looking. The man beside me said, look at him go. How does he hit those notes like that? My very own thought, and I hear him play every night at home but I never saw that action before.
Phil is a stickler for time. An hour show is an hour show. Not 55 minutes or 65 minutes. He has it timed perfectly. However he spoke more than usual last night. And it was past the time and he had another two songs to play. When he turned to talk about the next song I caught his eye and pointed to my watch. He was shocked and the people gave me an argument. “We don’t want him to leave. Keep playing!” And one of the men in the audience called out, “Phil, the last time we had someone that played as well as you, it was you.” Everyone applauded. So he played his last two songs. Of course everyone came over to thank him after. But if you want to talk about magic hands and fingers, it was Phil Matlin last night!
Traditionally, physical gifts come wrapped up in packages. They are placed in a box and wrapped in paper and tied with a bow. Now there are beautiful shopping bags and tissue paper and that is great for people like me who are not adept at wrapping like some people I know.
When people come to the magic shop to buy gifts for their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, etc. I ask them if they are giving the gift personally to these children or are they sending it to them. If they are sending it to them, that’s all there is to it. If they are giving it to them personally, it’s another story.
I tell them to open the trick, even if they have to tear the cardboard and see-through plastic window, if that’s how it is packaged from the manufacturer. I tell them to learn the trick themselves, even if they are not magicians, before giving it to them and perform it for them. Don’t tell them it’s a gift. Just do it and watch their face. Ask them if they would like to be able to do that. You’d be surprised at the bond you create when you share this special secret with them. Then you give it to them and explain that although they know the trick, they can enjoy the wonder of the people they perform it for.
If they open it and learn it without seeing it performed first, they never really see the magic. They know how it works beforehand. The mystery is gone. They may still appreciate the cleverness of it but have been robbed of that moment of awe.
When buying a gift for a magician, unless they tell you what they want, it’s best, in my opinion, to give them a Gift Card. You don’t know what they already have or what area of magic they are interested in. They too, enjoy the wonder of it. They watch youtube and would love to have this or that but don’t indulge themselves. A Gift Card makes it easy for the giver and the recipient.
Sometimes I wonder what I will write about and a blog walks into the shop. That’s exactly what happened yesterday.
A guy came into the shop with a friend. He was from out of town and seemed to know his way around magic. He had phoned in advance to see if we had certain items and we did so he got those items and others that caught his interest.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Phil was on his computer as usual. Not really as usual, as he bought a new computer and he was having a problem with it. It always happens with a new computer it seems. I was making invoices by hand like I did 40 years ago. These were invoices from 40 years ago with our old address on it and I had to hand write everything and figure out the taxes and it took time. So while I’m doing this Phil explains to the guy about his problems with the computer. He looks at Phil and says he looks familiar. Phil had no idea who he could be. Phil asked him where he lived and he said Toronto. However he was originally from Winnipeg. He asked Phil if his second name is Matlin and of course it is.
He said, you lectured in Winnipeg in the 80’s. I was at your lecture and I remember it was really good. He showed Phil a move Phil had taught at that lecture and he says he still uses it today. That’s going back at least 25 years. Phil actually lectured there twice. He was so good the first time, they called him back again. Mel Stover had invited Phil to lecture. Then our visitor and Phil went through all the names of the people they knew in common from Winnipeg. Now Winnipeg is not just around the corner. In addition to Mel, there was Brian Glow, James Cielen, who performed at Magie Montreal in 1989 (see photo), Dr. Joe Koffert, Len Vintus, Bill Brace, Cary Tardi and others. It was amazing. As I said, magic is a small world.