Spectacle written by Stephen Minch is a great book and contains many hidden magic gems. The list of contributors reads like a who’s who of magic. Included in the book is an Oil and Water phase by Ray Kosby with an easy-to-do mixing procedure that looks very fair. I’m surprised I have never seen anyone actually performing it. Take a look. Then buy the book!
I thought I already posted this, but I guess I was mistaken. At any rate, Patrick Redford came to Indianapolis a couple of months ago. He put on a great lecture and stuck around afterward to share some cool stuff. I’m a big fan of Patrick’s thinking in both magic and mentalism. I highly recommend that you check out his book Square. There are only a few routines described, but they are all top quality. I use a couple of them regularly (especially to fool magicians).
Here’s a quick video of an effect Patrick was kind enough to show me following his lecture:
Baltimore was the final stop of the tour where I lectured at the Denny and Lee Magic Studio. The shop is stocked with hundreds of books, DVDs, and tricks. It even has a pet pig… I’m not kidding. Denny Haney is one of those old school kind of dealers who seems to really care about his customers. He’ll give you his honest opinion about a product even if it means losing a sale. He won’t let you buy something that he thinks in crap. Overall, the shop was awesome. I wish we had something like that in Indianapolis.
Howie Schwartzman attended the lecture which was a treat. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see him do anything, but he gave me some nice comments afterward. I also got to briefly meet a few “Pebbleheads” that I knew from an online forum I frequent.
Eric Jones came to hang out before and after the lecture. I’m sure you’re already familiar with his work (which is stellar, by the way). If not, you really need to see his stuff. He’s a master technician, a creative thinker, and one of the nicest guys in magic. During the break he was showing the guys some of his stuff. We were all amazed at his material. I even joked during the second half that if anyone bought any of my books, Eric would be happy to sign it afterward.
When the lecture wrapped up, Eric was kind enough to show me a new Two Card Transpo routine he had been working on. It looks great. The second change, in particular, is an eye popper. Check it out:
Just before we were about to leave, Denny mentioned that he wanted to show me one more trick. I sat down to witness the filthiest card trick I could ever imagine. You though the Aristocrats was bad… yeesh!
Thanks to everyone who made my time on the road such a great experience. Thanks especially to Ben Train for setting everything up and showing me a good time in each city. I had such an awesome time and can’t wait to do it again. I will leave you with one last video from the road: Ben Train performing one of his smallmiracles.
After some more GPS issues, we arrived in Philadelphia, PA for my lecture at Marc DeSouza’s place. We still had a little time to eat before it was scheduled to start, so Marc and Steve Friedberg took us out for authentic Philly Cheesesteaks. They were AWESOME by the way!
Marc actually lives in King of Prussia, PA (a suburb of Philly), but I like to call it Magic Heaven. His place is amazing; it’s like a magic museum. Posters and handwritten letters from famous magicians line his walls. He has so many, in fact, that he has to rotate this art. There are thousands of books, videos, DVDs, lecture notes, playing cards… you name it and he has it. Vintage props from famous conjurers are on display. It is a one of a kind sight.
But that’s just the beginning. Upon passing through his magic collection, you enter his personal 30-40 seat theater complete with tiered seating. There is a also a full video and music editing area at the back. It is fully wired for sound, theatrical lighting, and it even has a 10 foot drop down projection screen. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen!
The lecture went very well. I got to meet another group of really cool guys including Sergio Cedron, a Casino dealer and sleight of hand expert. Here are a couple of really cool things he showed us.
After the lecture, we all went out for a bite and I was treated to more great magic by Steve Friedberg, Chris Carr, and Jason McCully among others. Ben and I had swore we were going to go back to the hotel early that night to crash, but once the pasteboards were out, all bets were off. I have no regrets though. The guys in Philly were awesome.
We parted company with the other guys and headed to our hotel to check in. At this point it was about 3:00AM, and we had been on the road for 9 days or so. We also had spent most of those nights crashing on other people’s couches. I was totally looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep in a full sized bed……… but then we entered the Twilight Zone.
I dropped Ben off at the front door of the hotel to check us in. He came back out like 15 minutes later and told me that the lady working behind the counter was really messed up on something. She had been slurring her words and talking to herself while Ben was waiting patiently. I laughed it off and we carried our luggage up to the second floor, room 246. We inserted the key and…. nothing. We tried the other key card. Nothing again. Ben was smiling. Now it was my turn to meet the crazy woman downstairs.
I made my way down to the front desk but nobody was there. I banged on doors and yelled to get someone’s attention. I had no luck. I picked up a business card from the counter and dialed the number on my cell phone. I let the hotel phone ring and ring and ring… and ring… and ring…. and ring. After about 10 minutes a woman emerged from the door behind me. “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t hear you.”
She pulled out her keys and attempted to open the door to get behind the counter. She was obviously having trouble. On the third key, she finally managed to open the door. She rounded the corner and SMACK! She stumbled right into a wall. I usually would try not to laugh at a thing like this, but Ben had me all psyched out. I held back my chuckles as best I could and handed her our room keys.
“You gave us keys to room 246, but they wouldn’t work.” She swiped the first card. “Oh, I can see how I did that. I should have told you room 264.” She paused. “I’m glad those didn’t work,” she slurred. “There’s people in that room, ha ha.”
She swiped the second card. “Ha, ha, ha. I don’t know what I was thinking with this one. It says room 268.” I tried not to laugh. “No problem,” I said. “We just need a key that works.” She re-swiped the cards for our new room, 264.
When I made it back up to Ben, I was smiling from ear to ear. We moved to our new room and tried the new key. We were in luck; the door opened. When we stepped inside, however, we noticed that the beds weren’t made, towels were still on the floor, and someone’s stuff was still in the room. At this point we both burst into laughter. A security guard came in right behind us. “You guys have to go back downstairs. There’s already people in this room.”
We went back down to the front desk and proceeded to have the most absurd interaction that I have ever had with another human being in my life. We were both laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. Even this didn’t seem to phase her. “What are we on Candid Camera or something,” she asked innocently. This didn’t do anything to stop my laughing.
“What are your names again?” she asked. “My name is Ben Train and this is Caleb Wiles. We should have a room with two beds that was paid for in advance,” Ben replied. He was the only one of us capable of getting a full sentence out at this point. I was too busy folded over laughing with tears in my eyes. “So, you’re not Joe Smith?” she said. “Oh wait, he’s in room 154.” My side was hurting. “And you’re not Brian Jones? Oh no, he’s in 157.”
Was this lady kidding us? I swore Ashton Kutcher was going to come through the door at any minute. We wrote down our names on the back of a business card hoping that visually seeing our names would help her remember.
“Who’s credit card did you give me?” she asked. Ben’s simple reply: “One that I regret.” I thought I was going to explode. She finally came to the conclusion that she had already checked us in even though we had just arrived. She had to send the security guard up to a third room to make sure that no people were there before we finally got a chance to crash. Keep in mind that it was 3:30 in the morning at this point.
It was such a ridiculous experience, but was totally worth it for the road story.
One of the highlights from our visit to New York was the tour of the Conjuring Arts Research Center given to us by Ricky Smith. (It was super cool to see a copy of High Spotssitting on the shelf there.) Ricky is a one of a kind individual with a killer sense of humor. He’s also a find card man. He invited Ben and I to perform for a few people around the office. Here’s Ben’s performance:
After leaving Conjuring Arts we made our way to the Museum of Modern Art. Unfortunately it was closed, but we did spend about an hour in the gift shop. Go figure.
The lecture was later that night for SAM Parent Assembly #1. A great group of guys showed up to take part in the fun. My favorite part was during my explanation of Holy BLANK when I started to explain Ken Krenzel’s Monte Plus Move… with Ken Krenzel sitting in the front row.
Asi Wind attended as well and stuck around for dinner afterward. Asi is one of my new favorite magicians. I had the opportunity to interact with him briefly a few weeks ago at the Magifest Convention. He gave an extremely good lecture. I bought everything he had for sale. I highly recommend his Switcher gimmick.
I also had the chance to meet Doug McKenzie who is David Blaine’s head consultant. He is famous for stealing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s watch in front of his security detail. The watch was later auctioned back to Mayor Giuliani to raise money for charity. At dinner, Doug show us some amazing and sophisticated memorized deck material… he also ate a lit cigarette. What a cool guy.
I really enjoyed spending time with all of the guys in New York including Alex Pandrea, Joshua Jay, and a whole host of others. By the way, Josh is busy working on his new one man show at the moment. He is such a creative thinker and a really hard worker. So much thought has gone into this new production. It’s going to be amazing. Alex is busy working on a brand new magic website called The Blue Crown. Check it out when you get a chance.
Tomorrow, I’ll post videos from our travels to Philadelphia, PA.
New York City was one of the coolest stops on the tour. Tony Chang was a great host. We got a chance to crash at his place and see some really cool magic. He also took us to some amazing restaurants around the city. I only knew Tony from our interactions on the internet magic forums and the videos he posts to his blog. It was nice to finally meet him in person. He’s a funny guy with some amazing chops.
What’s great about Tony is that even though he focuses on some pretty difficult sleight of hand, he always has his audience at the top of his mind. As much as I liked hanging out with him myself, the best moment was seeing him perform for a group of laymen late at night at the bar. Before we left for Philadelphia, Tony was kind enough to let me film him doing one of my favorite tricks of his to share with all of you. Take a look:
We visited Tannen’s Magic Shop as well as Fantasma Magic where David freakin’ Roth was demonstrating at the counter. At Fantasma I also had the chance to meet Doug Edwards. He was a fun guy to hang around and he showed me this really cool move that could be used at the card table just as easily as it could be used in a magic trick. Basically, it’s just an add-on of the Aces. But it looks completely natural and invisible. Here’s the real work as they say:
Eric Hu was another cool guy we spent a lot of time with in New York. He showed me his version of John Guastaferro’s “Tailspin” and I just had to have it for the blog. I really like his “mystery cards” presentation. It changes the effect from a normal “twisting” routine to more of a transposition. It also motivates one of the phases perfectly. Ok, enough talk, let’s check out the performance.
I’ve got more videos from New York. I’ll try to post them tomorrow.
After leaving Toronto, Ben and I headed to Ottawa to hang out with Eric Leclerc. He’s an amazing magician and a really cool guy. I was first introduced to Eric’s magic when he was featured on Jay Sankey’s Underground Jam DVD. For my money, Eric was the standout performer for sure. I immediately added his “Final Cap in Bottle” to my repertoire.
Then, in 2011, Eric began a project 365 video blog on youtube where he posts a new magic trick every single day. I’ve already talked about Calen Morelli’s 365 project, but Eric’s goals are completely different. While Calen’s videos are geared towards magicians, Eric’s efforts are aimed at laymen. He does a great job of keeping each episode entertaining and his personality really comes across. Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to Eric’s youtube page to watch each episode.
While we were jamming after the lecture, Eric asked me if I would be interested in filming something for his project. I chose to perform one of my favorite effects, Holy BLANK. Check out my performance below and you’ll also be treated to a few chords played by the one and only Ben Train.
If you want to learn more about Holy BLANK, please visit my PRODUCT PAGE.
The first stop on the February 2011 Magic Lecture Tour was Toronto, Ontario, Canada. On the way up from Indianapolis, I had the chance to meet up with Nathan Kranzo in Flint, MI for a couple of hours. He showed me some pretty cool peeks that I had never seen before. He’s really done his homework when it comes to this venerable technique. Many of them flew right by me.
A little while later I crossed the border into Canada. This was my first time out of the country and my first time being away from my wife and son for this long. So, while I was super excited to embark on my first real tour, I was also a bit nervous about beginning the experience.
I arrived in Toronto around 9PM to meet up with Ben Train. Ben set up the entire schedule and took care of working out all of the details for the tour. He did a great job showing me around each city and making sure that things went smoothly. When I arrived, Ben mentioned that Simon Lovell was in town shooting a television show and wanted to meet up for drinks.
I had heard many stories about the “Wobbly Wombat,” but nothing compared to actually meeting him in person. He is truly insane (and I mean that as a compliment). He told me some of the craziest stories I’ve ever heard in my life. From getting an old man arrested during a prank to real life stories of cons he used to play, there’s no other guy like him in the world. By the way, Simon was filming for the Canadian television show Marketplace where he pulled real-life cons on people while hidden cameras were rolling. His episode is due to air on April 1st on CBC.
After a late night (they all were), we woke up the next morning to visit Morrissey Magic shop where I met Greg Frewin, Lee Asher, and a bunch of the local guys. All I could think about though was that scene from David Acer’s On Screen and Other Mysteries DVD where Jay Sankey does magic in the shop with a bear mask on his head.
The lecture was held at the Browser’s Den Magic Shop where I got a chance to meet Jeff Hinchliffe. I had heard so many great things about his magic, and I was eager to see him do his thing. Jeff is known for his memorised deck work, but he’s no slouch when it comes to sleight-of-hand. Take a look at this.
The lecture went great. The attendees were very enthusiastic and provided an awesome start to the tour. The best part, however, happened after the lecture. A bunch of us headed to McSorley’s Saloon Grill to see Chris Westfall perform at his weekly restaurant gig. Simon, the owner of the restaurant is a huge fan of magic. He treated us all like kings. He kept bringing his friends over to see tricks. A few minutes later, he’d reward us with a tray full of complimentary drinks for the table.
Simon loved the tricks I showed him, but I think I amazed him most when I told him that I didn’t drink. You would have thought that he had just seen a ghost. He told me the reason he opened the bar in the first place: “I used to sit around drinking so much that one day I just realized that it would be cheaper to own the place!” I couldn’t believe it; the second crazy Simon I had met in my brief time in Canada. At any rate, he was a great host and a tremendous storyteller. Throw in a few dirty jokes and you’ve got one hell of an evening.
We hung around doing tricks until the bar closed (not the last time this would happen on the trip!) Luckily, I got the chance to film a few of the guys doing some really cool stuff. (Keep in mind that many of them were inebriated.) I think you’ll really like what you see.
First up is Chris Westfall, a full time pro in Toronto. He showed me a wickedly cool rubber band trick based on an idea by Daniel Garcia. It looks like real magic. Just see for yourself.
Glenn West was another highlight from Toronto. He’s got some great chops. I really enjoyed everything that he showed me. While most of us carried in a beat up deck of cards to the session, Glenn was prepared with a suitcase full of magic. He even did his cups and balls routine for the owner. When he produced a full glass of alcohol as the final load, I thought Simon was going to faint. My favorite thing he showed me, though, was this crazy card trick. Check it out for yourself:
I’ve got one more clip from Toronto that I’ll post tomorrow. If you’re not familiar with the work of Mahdi Gilbert, you’re going to flip. He is one of the most inspirational magicians I’ve ever met. Stay tuned!