Halfway through reading Alex Stone's memoir, Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind, I read Ricky Jay's blisteringly negative review of the book in the Wall Street Journal. Cleverly titled "Slight of Hand," Jay described Stone's book as "an ostensibly self-effacing memoir by an inept amateur conjurer."
I love Ricky Jay's magic, his books, his quarterly magazine, and his performances. Jay is a talented magician and a fascinating storytelling historian of magic, con artists, and sideshows. He's certainly a more talented magician and a more knowledgable historian that Stone. And Jay rightfully calls out several errors of fact that Stone made in Fooling Houdini.
But even so, I finished Stone's book because I was fascinated by his story.
Read the rest
Karswell is co-editor of the Chilling Archives of Horror Comic Books series (including Zombies, excerpted on Boing Boing). He also runs the fabulous blog, and everything else too. He recently scanned a circa-1960 novelty catalog, which is loaded with intriguing objects from a bygone era.
If you've ever read a silver age comic book in your life, chances are you've seen the ad for World Wide Diamond Co., once located in windy wacky Chicago IL. And if you sent away for one of their smallish, 48-page, newsprint mail order catalogs then you absolutely uncovered a world of REAL hidden treasure! For buried there among all the other pages of cheap, gaudy jewelry and marked down wristwatches are the NOVELTY gift and gag pages, crammed packed with a jaw-dropping assortment of magic tricks, prank gadgets, monster masks, 'bop' style glasses, toys and other various instruments of endless enchantment and far-out fun! Man, there's seriously so much good stuff to share from this guide that it'll take two entire posts to deliver it all-- ENJOY!!
I wonder how many people bought the tiny donkey tie clip, which emits a loud fart when the wearer squeezes a rubber bulb?
WWD Co., Novelty Catalog (PT. 1) | WWD Co., Novelty Catalog (PT. 2)
Here's a great self-working card trick to teach your kids. If they are old enough to spell, they will love performing it for their friends. I learned about the trick, which was invented by magician Jim Steinmeyer, on Greg Ross's Futility Closet blog.
Remove any nine cards from an ordinary deck, shuffle them, and deal them face down into three piles. Choose any pile and note its bottom card. Then assemble the three piles into one, being sure to place the chosen pile on top.
Suppose the card you chose is the three of spades. Spell T-H-R-E-E, dealing one card face down onto the table with each letter. Place the remaining cards on top of these five and take up the whole packet. Now spell O-F, and again place the remaining cards on top of these two. Then spell S-P-A-D-E-S and place the remaining cards on top.
Now pick up the packet and spell M-A-G-I-C, dealing the final card face up. It’s the three of spades.
It boggles my mind that Mr. Steinmeyer could invent such a trick!
Self-described "Magician Prankster!" Magic Of Rahat produced this clever video demonstrating an effective "invisible driver" prank to play on hapless fast food attendants. (thanks, Joe Sabia!)
The Invisible Flea. The Spirit Hand. The Spirit in the Bottle. The Floating Body. I couldn't resist ordering Spooky Magic when I was about eight years old and saw it in the Scholastic Book newsletter. When the book arrived I wasn't disappointed. A couple of my friends and I prepared a magic show for our Cub Scout den, and it was a hit. The Floating Body trick, depicted on the cover, was the crowd favorite.
A couple of years ago I ordered a used copy on Amazon. It's out of print, but you can get a copy for as low as $.50. I impressed by the quality of the magic tricks, and the instructions for performing the tricks. The illustrations are also excellent, and I remember them clearly from my childhood.
Here are some other scans from the book: Spirit Hand, Tricks with Black Thread, back cover.
I couldn't find much information about the illustrator, William Meyerriecks. But look at this great cover he did for Robert Silverberg's Revolt on Alpha C.