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...
Images from Egyptian Hall

Images from Egyptian Hall

Egyptian Hall Museum is the oldest private magic museum in America, started in 1895 by W.W. Durbin and later nurtured for nearly fifty years by David Price of Brentwood, Tennessee. Mike Caveney and George Daily acquired the museum in 2000 and today Mike curates the collection in Pasadena, California. Mike Caveney is a well known magician, historian, writer and publisher of books on the history and practice of magic. His historical works include biographies on The Great Leon, Servais Le Roy, Harry Kellar and Charles Carter. For Taschen Books he co-wrote a massive tome called MAGIC 1400s–1950 which has been translated into six languages. In a regular feature on the Conjuring Arts website, Caveney will be sharing some of the treasures from Egyptian Hall Museum.   Houdini and Kellar by Mike Caveney When asked to name the greatest magician of all time, most non-magicians would name the only one they could recall: Harry Houdini. While it’s true that Houdini always included magic in his show, he was most famous for being an escape artist, and later for his efforts in exposing fraudulent spirit mediums. If you were to ask Houdini who he considered to be the greatest magician, his answer would likely have been Harry Kellar. Born in Pennsylvania in 1849, Kellar spent the first part of his career touring the world. In 1884 he returned to the United States and until his retirement in 1908 he performed solely for North American audiences. When Alexander Herrmann—Kellar’s main rival as America’s foremost magician—died suddenly in 1896, Kellar spent the final twelve years of his career as the uncontested King of...

On Magic Words; or, A Trick by Any Other Name

by Brad Henderson The word “magician” can mean many things, and one can be some, all, or any combination of those things. Some magicians make their living performing, some do it just for fun. Some magicians collect the equipment, ephemera, and even the secrets of bygone magicians. While they may not perform, they provide a valuable service by keeping our history alive. Some magicians are interested in the theory of magic—as an art, a craft, a science. They provoke others interested in magic to re-view and reevaluate their beliefs, values, and choices. Some magicians craft and manufacture the props and equipment used by the performers and coveted by the collectors. Some magicians write for other magicians, both technically and creatively. There are magician publishers, and magician consultants, and magician photographers, and the list goes on. As magician-philosopher Eugene Burger put it, “Magic is a house with many rooms.” As a magician, I have spent a lot of time in many of these spaces. I make my living performing and producing events throughout the world; I have been collecting magic-related items since I was a teenager; I spend almost every waking moment thinking about magic, what it means, and how we can better create emotional responses for our audience; and I love talking to real people (i.e., non-magicians) about magic and what it means to them (and me!). To that end I’d like to kick off my Conjuring Arts Research Center tenure with a question that allows me to introduce you to several of my favorite rooms. Q: What word do magicians hate the most? I love asking this question...
Gibecière 21, Volume 11, Number 1

Gibecière 21, Volume 11, Number 1

The Winter 2016 issue of Gibecière is getting ready to ship and we can’t wait to share it with you. Come travel the world with us as we track down magic in Japan, America, Austria and Persia. Mitsunobi Matsuyama has joined us again to present a fascinating look at “Metsuke-ji”, a centuries-old mathematical effect developed in Japan. Jerry Christensen sheds light on little-known Allan Shaw, a coin manipulator during the vaudeville era considered second only to T. Nelson Downs. Magic Christian continues his efforts to discover more about the fascinating life and accomplishments of Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser, overturning two commonly accepted opinions in his article, “The Truth.” Reza Saberi offers insight and a translation of two chapters of Tuhfat al-Ghraib, a medieval work by Muhammad ibn Ayyub Alhaseb Tabari. This work, whose title translates in English to The Gift of Wonder, falls into the genre of books of secrets more commonly found in the sixteenth-century Italian tradition. The Gift of Wonder however is an extraordinary find as it dates from the end of the tenth century to the beginning of the twelfth, and falls outside of both the date and geographic range typically associated with this genre of work. This issue will be sent out in the beginning of February to all members due to receive it. Not currently a member? Join before January 16th to receive this as the first of your two issues that will come with your...
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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