Rage Against the Gizmo

Rage Against the Gizmo 1

I am a big fan of contemporary physics and cosmology. I have read and studied the general public books of authors like Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, and Lawrence Krauss. I don’t mean that I have skimmed through the books by these learned gentlemen; I have read and reread them, trying to wrap my head around the concepts they introduce. And I’m gaining some headway. I’m beginning to understand the Big Bang, inflation, dark matter, dark energy, string theory, and the importance of finding the Higgs boson.

But no matter how many of these general public books I read, or how many of the wonderful science programs I watch on television, my knowledge of this subject would not cause any working physicist to worry about his or her job security. There is simply so much more to physics than the surface concepts explained in these books. If you doubt this, just open up a physics textbook and see how far you get through it. (The collected Feynman Lectures on Physics are fun, if you’re brave.) I have been exposed to the concepts and ideas of contemporary physics, but in no way does this information diminish my respect and admiration for the people who devote their lives to science. Even a casual reader of these books (or viewer of the television shows) must realize that there is a lot more to physics than is presented in shows or books for the general public.

So what’s the point of this little essay? I’ll get to it in a moment (and I know many of you are way ahead of me), but

A Short History of The T.O.M. Epiphany

A Short History of The T.O.M. Epiphany 0

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” – Carl Jung

I have no idea what allows some people to be more creative than others; a fortunate arrangement of neural connections certainly is important. But research has shown everyone is creative, to a greater or lesser degree.

I believe what makes creative breakthroughs happen is the amount of time someone spends ruminating. A musical analogy is this: Someone asked a great blues guitar player how he got so accomplished. He said, “You always have a guitar in your hands.” And that’s how it is with creativity; the creative person is always thinking about something.

Jung describes this process as “play,” which makes it sound like fun and games. Sometimes this is true; much of the time, it isn’t. I have spent many hours in the playpen of my mind trying to pound a square peg into a round hole, without actually understanding the true

Observations on the Side Steal

Observations on the Side Steal 1

The side steal is a bugaboo card sleight. There are some effects, such as my The Card, the Forehead, and the Salt Shaker, for which it is absolutely vital; you can’t do the routine without a swift, dependable way to palm a card from the middle of the deck. 
Memorized Deck Magic - Taking the Next Step

Memorized Deck Magic - Taking the Next Step 0

My motivation for learning memorized deck magic was based on two things: a Juan Tamariz lecture in St. Louis, during which he performed Mnemonicosis; and the (unfortunately) vague descriptions of Bert Allerton’s memdeck effects in The Close-up Magician. Concerning memdeck magic, The Close-up Magician contains this salient point: “The reason the stacked deck tricks impressed people as being on a plane entirely beyond that of the usual card trick was because instead of being asked to select a card, they were required to merely name a card.”

  • Michael Close
Lecture vs. Webinar

Lecture vs. Webinar 0

Lecturing is a frustrating experience, especially so if your goal is to impart information rather than to pitch products. The problem is that the range of knowledge and experience in any given group of magic enthusiasts is wide. In a magic club you may find someone who has been interested in magic for forty years, and someone else who has only been interested in magic for two years. But the neophyte may know more than the old timer. How do you address such a diverse group? I openly discussed this problem before my lectures, using the following story. 

The Truth about Lying

The Truth about Lying 1

“Magic consists mostly of bald-faced lies. I think if you don’t lie like a bandit, you don’t have the remotest chance of entertaining and fooling your audience.” 
– Geoff Latta, The Long Goodbye

My friend Peter Samelson posted the above quote on his Facebook page; it stimulated some discussion. Lies (and the ability to tell them convincingly) are part of the conjurer’s toolbox. A magician who chooses not to lie eschews an important layer of deception.