ON: WORD 2 – Parasites, Precursors, the Relativity of Originality, and the Grand Scheme of Things? by Jon Racherbaumer

ON: WORD 2 – Parasites, Precursors, the Relativity of Originality, and the Grand Scheme of Things? by Jon Racherbaumer

ON:WORDS Jon Racherbaumer   PARASITES, PRECURSORS, THE RELATIVITY OF ORIGINALITY, AND THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS?   “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”  -Chuck Palahniuk  Consider the word “origin,” including its origin. Some back-trackers have tracked this word’s origin to early 16th century. Derived from the French origine or the Latin orfiri, it basically means,  “to rise.” As a handy-dandy noun, though, it refers to the point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived. If this is the case, where do ideas and tricks begin, arise, or are derived? I also mention this because cyclic topics (originality, provenance, and plagiarism) recently and momentarily made the news. I’m speaking here about the in-house blowback prompted by Richard Jones winning Britain’s Got Talent. Perhaps the reason this lit up Magicdom’s Blogosphere is two-fold…or should we say, two-edged? For one thing, Jones is the first illusionist to win this British television show, which at first blush should cause most magicians to cheer. Doesn’t such a win suggest that “magic,” if properly done in today’s media, is good enough to be richly rewarded? [1] Reaction in the blogosphere, however, was quick and effete. (Tweets in a teapot?) Most of the blowback emanated from outspoken protectors and agitprops in the magic community. However, contest judges and the public-at-large differed. If they considered Jones’ presentation worthy and wondrous, squawks to the contrary from a not-so-silent minority falls onto deaf ears. Do protestations and gripes by rival professionals really make a difference? The Guardian reported, “Magicians have been overjoyed at the win, with the Magic...
ON: WORD 1 – What’s Your Story? by Jon Racherbaumer

ON: WORD 1 – What’s Your Story? by Jon Racherbaumer

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?   ________   Jon Racherbaumer   “Every story I create creates me. I write to create myself.” -Octavia E. Butler   “A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is – full of surprises.” -Isaac Bashevis Singer   “Narration is as much a part of human nature as breath and the circulation of the blood.” -A. S. Byatt   “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” -J. K. Rowling   Stories. Story-Telling. Narratives. Narrativity.   The first time it happened I was 11. And when it happened I was psychically transported to another place (via magic). The staging area was in a high-school auditorium in Elmhurst, Illinois and the “transporter” onstage at first was not impressive. He shuffled onstage looking like a Zen priest wearing a tuxedo. What he said and how he spoke, however, made me piggyback every moment as it passed. For the most part he told stories—lots of them—using interesting props. At one point I remember he uttered a homespun declaration: “In the beginning,” he said, “the Lord created the world!” This was nothing new. I heard this kind of remark many times in church, but when this slightly stooped man said it, a red ball suddenly appeared out of thin air! Whoa! This guy was simultaneous telling and showing. Then he related an entirely different “take” on the story of Adam and Eve, using colored balls, which, as he spoke, magically appeared, disappeared, and multiplied. He pretended that a ball could be an apple, which he apparently...
Flibberty-Gibberty 7 by Jon Racherbaumer

Flibberty-Gibberty 7 by Jon Racherbaumer

FLIBBERTY-GIBBERTY #7 Jon Racherbaumer REGARDING A FEW OF THE QUOTATIONS PUBLISHED IN THE GREATER ARTFUL DODGES OF EDDIE FIELDS     Most quotable pundits belittle the practice of quoting other pundits. That being said, consider these two sentences by Ralph Waldo Emerson:          “I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.” Well, I know lots of little things. I know, for example, that I started to conscientiously collect quotations in 1955. Whenever I ran across a phrase or quotation that seemed supple, thoughtful, incisive, poetic, or witty, it was savored and saved. The quotations chosen for the Artful Dodges book were not capriciously picked. Each was germane regarding how Eddie Fields approached and presented his magic. Their allusiveness was meant to supplement my youthful, slap-dash prose. I needed to intermittently pump some gravitas into my wobbly exposition. Looking back, the quotations are not as suggestive and opaque as early critics claimed. I repeat: none of them were arbitrarily chosen. On the contrary, they are proven, pertinent points that Fields wanted to emphasize. I hope the following annotations will sharpen your understanding of any possible allusiveness or intent?   THE QUOTATIONS   “Imitation is criticism.” -William Blake Fields repeatedly stressed the importance of working from the inside and then outward. “Start within and work your way out. Learn the mechanics of the trick and then figure out the psychological parts.” He recommended internalizing these aspects. “Figure out how you would express any trick. If you do this, your presentations will be inimitable. Nobody can copy these things in an ongoing, spontaneous basis. If somebody can imitate you (not your tricks), then...
Flibberty-Gibberty 6 by Jon Racherbaumer

Flibberty-Gibberty 6 by Jon Racherbaumer

VANNI BOSSI: CLASSY SCHOLAR Jon Racherbaumer   Vanni Bossi was a classy scholar who diligently pursued excellence and he was a model of such artistic intent. This is why it’s challenging and perhaps futile to find an apt and summarizing word or two to pin like shiny medals on Vanni’s yet-to-be-passed mantle. “Class act” comes to mind. So does “quiet elegance.” The last two words suggest other considerations because he was indeed an aristocrat of scholarship. He researched, read and studied the roots of our art form; and deeply cared about everything he investigated. This had a humbling effect on him because when he spoke and performed, he did so without any swagger or ostentation. A different kind of assurance was at work. His modesty gave rise to a subtle and winning kind of gravitas. Slowly and surely he made the most of available time. Gradually and unfailing he cast spells and while doing so he managed to radiate an old-world, sweetly seasoned, charm. But most of all, he eschewed anything that might trivialize or discredit the art form he loved, which is why his level of creativity was cutting-edge. It always seemed as though he was distilling four centuries of mystery and manners—all served up with grace and civility. Vanni’s research drilled down deeply. Details mattered. Patterns had to connect. If a subject such as the mnemonic use of playing cards interested him, he would start digging and would eventually find and reprint works dating back to 1593 such as Horatio Galasso’s Giochi di carte bellissimi di regola, e di memoria. He might also take time out to...
Flibberty-Gibberty 5 by Jon Racherbaumer

Flibberty-Gibberty 5 by Jon Racherbaumer

MATT-INGLY YOURS Jon Racherbaumer   The taverns in Chicago, circa 1935-1960, were a fertile breeding ground for a special kind of close-up entertainment to gain traction. Prohibition led to speakeasies and after Prohibition was repealed, customers needed places to drink booze, and in the Windy City taverns (as they were often called) proliferated. There was one or two in almost every neighborhood. Also, where booze was served at a bar, you would likely find a dice cup, some dice, a cribbage board, and decks of cards. If these things were nearby, you would inevitably find players, gamblers, jokesters, drinkers, and tricksters and the City of Big Shoulders bred some of the best magicians: Bert Allerton, Johnny Paul, Matt Schulien, Jim Ryan, Don Alan, Heba Haba Al, Clarke “Senator” Crandall, Johnny Platt, Frank Everhardt, Johnny Thompson, and (for a brief time) even Ed Marlo. Don Alan was exposed to these magicians and the—shall we say—ecology of the Chicago Bar Venue. The word “ecology” is used here because it includes the relations and interactions of the people with the environment rather than just the physical environment or setting. Don learned a lot working at Schulien’s restaurant-tavern. He carefully watched Matt Schulien work the crowd. Matt stopped short of being officious, but he was cheerfully engaging. He was exuberant and fun loving. Don realized the power of this approach, and he made many mental notes. He also paid close attention to the personal performing styles of Bert Allerton and Johnny Paul, picking up many great bits of business and audience-pleasing tactics. More important, he assimilated enduring psychological principles and soon the true...

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