Some Thoughts About Piracy in Magic

Some Thoughts About Piracy in Magic 0

Here's an unusual thing that happened at the Ring 129 Workshop convention in St. Joe. During my lecture on Saturday, I somehow got on the topic of ethics, and I mentioned that every now and then someone would contact me with an ethical question. When that happens, I always respond, "You don't have an ethical question; you just want me to say that what you're about to do is okay."

So here's the unusual thing. That evening, one of the presenters told me that some time after my lecture one of the attendees came up to him and told him he had stolen an item from the lecturer's table. He said he felt bad about it, and then gave him

  • Michael Close
Mentor or Consultant?

Mentor or Consultant? 1

We live in a time of unprecedented access to information. The Internet is the genie that answers all questions with the click of a few keystrokes. Unfortunately, that genie is indiscriminate about the nuggets it offers; often what you seek is buried in a sewer full of garbage.

If you think I’m kidding, try it yourself. Type “Elmsley Count Tutorial” into a Google search bar. (For USA readers, you’d better do this now while it’s still free.) Under “All,” you’ll find 40,700 hits; under “Videos,” you’ll find 15,400 hits. Of those thousands of options, which ones give you the correct technique? Which ones explain that, if you think about it logically, the Elmsley count actions don’t make much sense if you are trying to establish some fact about the condition of four cards (all face down, all blue-backed, etc.)? I don’t know the answers to those questions. Which one of those thousands of options will  

Wrapping It Up

Wrapping It Up 0

The December 2017 issue of M-U-M brings to a close my tenure as editor of that magazine. When I took the job, Lisa and I lived in Las Vegas and my daughter was two years old. Over the next nine years we moved three times, across the United States and into Canada, and produced 108 issues – which is a pretty good magic trick all by itself. In the beginning there were steep learning curves. Lisa became a wizard at Photoshop and InDesign, and (after editing almost seven million words) I finally understood more about writing.

From the start, I knew what my editorial slant for the magazine would be. I wanted to emphasize books (and the importance of reading them) and practical, real-world advice from working professionals. Fortunately, I was able coerce many of the world’s top pros and part-time pros into...

  • Michael Close
The Power of a Real Magician

The Power of a Real Magician 0

If you participate in social media, you probably are aware of the substantial buzz produced by Eric Mead’s appearance on Penn & Teller: Fool Us. Eric performed the late Tim Conover’s handling of the classic John Ramsey effect, The Cylinder and Coins. Knowing that both Penn and Teller were certainly aware of the subterfuge at the heart of this routine, Eric crafted an intriguing presentation based on what Johnny Thompson calls the “90/10 paradox.”

If a magician performs for a layman, and if he can figure out ten percent of how the trick works, but ninety percent of the trick puzzles him, the layman will say that the trick didn't fool him. But if a magician performs for a fellow conjurer, and he can figure out how ninety percent of the trick works but ten percent of the trick puzzles him, he will say he was fooled. Because the Cylinder and Coins is a classic effect, Eric conceded that ninety percent of it

  • Michael Close

Thoughts on My Recent Magic Theory Lecture 0

On Sunday, August 13, I had the pleasure of presenting a lecture on magic theory for a group of magicians at the Browser’s Den of Magic ( I’d like to thank Jeff Pinsky, owner of the Den, for suggesting I do this lecture. It’s a risky idea; generally speaking, lectures that eschew tricks and focus only on theory are not that popular with magicians. Magicians want tricks. (In the three-and-a-half hours I spoke, I did four tricks, but I didn’t explain them. I only pointed out aspects of their methods that related to the theoretical point I was discussing.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the lecture was sold out; it was standing room only in the shop. I was even more pleasantly surprised that almost everyone stayed for the entire talk, that they were absorbed by the subject matter, and that they asked good questions. I send out my heartfelt thanks to all of you who attended.

  • Michael Close

So Mike, what's in it for me? 0

I’d like to take a quick moment to break down what you get with one of our workshop/retreats compared to attending a standard magic convention. Once you understand exactly what you’ll get from our workshop, you’ll find this to be an experience whose value is way beyond the actual cost.

Current Magic Conventions vs Our Workshop/Retreats....

  • Michael Close
Salute to our friend Daryl

Salute to our friend Daryl 0

daryl magicianFebruary of 2017 ended with horrible news – news that sent waves of shock and sorrow through the magic community. Daryl Easton – Daryl “The Magician’s Magician” – had taken his life. On social media expressions of grief were profound and sincere. For almost forty years Daryl had been a vibrant force, with performances and lectures for audiences around the world. He seemed to have an indefatigable enthusiasm for magic and magicians. That he would choose to depart the planet was a situation many (myself included) found hard to accept.
  • Michael Close
  • Tags: Daryl

Thoughts on Magic Conventions 0

These days, there are many magic conventions vying for your dollars. Many are large-scale affairs, with attendance ranging from five-hundred to sixteen-hundred magicians. You go, you sit and watch a close-up show projected on a big screen, you buy an expensive trick that ends up at the bottom of your magic drawer, and you never have the opportunity to talk to (much less spend time with) the magicians you could learn from.

While I have attended my share of big conventions, my preference now is for smaller gatherings. In Canada, two gatherings have been particularly impactful. The first is a small, invitation-only gathering in Toronto. Thirty-one magicians perform, share information, and socialize over a weekend. There are scheduled events, but there is also time to just talk.

  • Michael Close

Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp Ends 0

On January 11, 2017, the following information was released by Mike and Jen Segal:

“All great things must come to an end!”

To all campers, friends, and family of Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp:

After twenty amazing years of Magic Camp, it is with heavy hearts we announce that our amazing ride has come to an end.

From the bottom of our hearts we want to thank all our staff, artists, sponsors, and special guests who made camp such a success. Please be proud of your contributions; together we fulfilled the dreams of many young magicians worldwide!

We want to give a warm thank you to Camp Tamarack, Camp White Pine, and Camp Northland for being our gracious hosts over the years.

  • Michael Close

Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp 2016 0

magic camp 2015Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp is happening again this year; the camp runs from Sunday, August 7 through Friday, August 12. This is an earlier date than previous years, and I hope that means that a few more young American magicians can join us. We’re at a new camp site: Camp Northland, which has 650 wooded acres located on Moose Lake. The special guest this year is Suzanne, whom many of you may have seen on the second season of Penn & Teller: Fool Us. (She fooled Penn & Teller with her great version of the signed Band-Aid transposition.)

I eagerly look forward to magic camp each summer for several reasons: 1) being out in nature helps clear out the cobwebs and reduces the stress that living in the GTA produces; 2) camp gives me the opportunity to reconnect with old pals like Shawn Farquhar, Lee Asher, Aaron Fisher, Mike Segal, Ben Train, Chris Mayhew, and Eric LeClerc; 3) camp gives me the opportunity to offer a perspective on the art of magic that is not popularly available to young magicians. Through my own performances, the card classes, the electives, and in the informal gatherings, I present an approach to magic that has been influenced by my mentor, Harry Riser, and his mentors, Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller. I want to challenge young magicians to examine the reasons behind what they do and why they do it; in return, I hope they will challenge me to defend my approach.

I’ve never experienced anything like magic camp. It is something I wish I could have attended when I was young. Sorcerers Safari Magic Camp can be a life-changing experience. If you know a young magician who would benefit from this experience, please consider sponsoring him or her.