MagicPeaceLove sez, "'Virtual Magician' Marco Tempest is a pioneer in fusing the magical with the technological and he blows it out of the water with this augmented card routine recently posted at TED. The routine is an updated version of a classic called 'Sam the Bellhop,' in which a clever narrative story follows random cards dealt face-up one-by-one from a shuffled deck. Tempest, however, spins a much more poetic narrative and the augmented reality element is a wonder to behold."
MagicPeaceLove sez, "The Virts, a trio of skilled cardistes from Singapore, up the ante of ECM (Extreme Card Manipulation) with a beautifully shot & edited short promo showing off their Extreme Card Prowess. The closing set, an unbroken, 25-second take, is a dazzling display of technical virtuosity with a deck of cards."
In the outskirts of London, among the small shops, a rather unusual trick has been played frequently upon unsuspecting shopkeepers. Two men in earnest argument over some matter enter a small grocery store and approach the proprietor who is behind his till. One man says to the proprietor, “My friend and I have gotten into an argument over a peculiar matter which we believe you can settle for us. I have bet him that my hat,” taking off an old-fashioned stove-pipe hat, “will hold more than four quarts of molasses, while he contends that it will hold hardly three quarts. We are willing to buy the molasses of you will fill this hat and prove the question to decide the bet.” The shopkeeper good-humoredly agrees, and brings the hat brimful with sticky molasses, at which one of the thieves slaps it over the shopkeeper’s head, and before he can extricate himself and call for help they have robbed the till and disappeared.
Todd Landman is a professor of government at the University of Essex. He's also a talented stage magician and mentalist. Now, Landman has combined his love of teaching with his passion for illusion to become the world's first official Visiting Professor of Performance Magic, an appointment at England's University of Huddersfield's new Magic Research Group. Oh, if only I could audit. From the University:
Landman… delves deeply into the history and heritage of magic and believes that it enables the world to be viewed with a fresh sense of wonder.
“We are trying to rescue magic from its worst faults – which is cheesy guys in cheesy ties with rabbits in hats!” he says. “We are interested in the deeper side of things.”
He has a special fascination for renaissance men such as Dr John Dee and Sir Isaac Newton – scientists, astronomers and mathematicians who also practised astrology and alchemy. And today, the study of magic allows for “different ways of knowing the world”, according to Dr Landman.
Here's a video of a Mahdi Gilbert card magic show at Magic-Con 2012. Madhi's a 20 year old magician from Toronto, whose arms and hands are affected by a congenital condition. His sleights and routines are rather novel, adapted for his anatomical quirks, and his mastery is indisputable. PeaceLove, the magician who sent in this video, notes that the second half is better than the first. There are plenty of other videos of his work on YouTube, including this interview.
Ian Tregillis's The Coldest War is the long-awaited sequel to his 2010 novel alternate WWII novel Bitter Seeds, a secret history that pitted a mad Nazi scientist who'd made a cadree of twisted, dieselpunk X-Men against the hidden warlocks of the British Isles, men who conferred with ancient, vast forces and traded the blood of innocents for the power to warp time and space.
Coldest War opens in the late 1960s, in which continental Europe has been entirely taken over by the Soviet Union, the UK locked in cold war with it. The Nazi supermen of the first volume were either captured by the Soviets and spirited away to a secret city for reverse-engineering, or they were killed, or they have gone underground in London.
With all the flair he showed in his debut novel, Tregillis continues the tale, bringing to it that same marvellous plotting, immersive sense of place, and above all, wonderful characters. One of the characters introduced in the first novel is a precognitive, and in this volume -- which revolves around her long plots -- we are shown that the power to see the future is the most corrupting power of them all. Tregillis's oracle is one of the most chilling psychopath villains of literature, a delicious monster who drives the book forward.
As with the earlier volume, I tore through this one in a day and a half. Tregillis is a major new talent in the field, and this is some of the best -- and most exciting -- alternate history I've read. Bravo.
Marco Tempest is an illusionist who works with technology, as well as traditional magician's skills like sleight of hand. Although its easier to imagine how you program three iPods to do the things he has them doing in this video, it's still a neat display of skill. After all, most of us don't believe that magicians actually make things vanish, anyway. The fun is that most of us don't know how to do the trick, and we're impressed when the magician makes it work so smoothly. Same thing is true here, just in a slightly different way.
Here are ten clever sucker bets from Richard Wiseman. They're a good mix of physics, logic, low trickery, concept-shifting, misdirection, topology, and breathtaking chutzpah. Seriously, I can't believe that he ever tried #10, because he is still breathing.
Writing in Smithsonian magazine, magician Teller describes the neuroscience that underpins magical illusions, using admirably clear language to describe some of the weirdest ways that our brains can be made to fool us.
1. Exploit pattern recognition. I magically produce four silver dollars, one at a time, with the back of my hand toward you. Then I allow you to see the palm of my hand empty before a fifth coin appears. As Homo sapiens, you grasp the pattern, and take away the impression that I produced all five coins from a hand whose palm was empty.
2. Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth. You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest. My partner, Penn, and I once produced 500 live cockroaches from a top hat on the desk of talk-show host David Letterman. To prepare this took weeks. We hired an entomologist who provided slow-moving, camera-friendly cockroaches (the kind from under your stove don’t hang around for close-ups) and taught us to pick the bugs up without screaming like preadolescent girls. Then we built a secret compartment out of foam-core (one of the few materials cockroaches can’t cling to) and worked out a devious routine for sneaking the compartment into the hat. More trouble than the trick was worth? To you, probably. But not to magicians.
3. It’s hard to think critically if you’re laughing. We often follow a secret move immediately with a joke. A viewer has only so much attention to give, and if he’s laughing, his mind is too busy with the joke to backtrack rationally.
4. Keep the trickery outside the frame. I take off my jacket and toss it aside. Then I reach into your pocket and pull out a tarantula. Getting rid of the jacket was just for my comfort, right? Not exactly. As I doffed the jacket, I copped the spider.
Indie juggler, conjurer and impresario Mat Ricardo sez,
Earlier this month we launched the first in this season of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties - the combined comedy variety and interview show that comes live from the Bethnal Green Working Mens Club in London. We had a ball. You should have been there!
But it's ok, because next month's show is even better - cabaret superstars Frisky & Mannish, amazing dance troupe The Twilight Players, and the astonishing juggler and yo-yo-ist Arron Sparks will make up the variety part of the show, and then I'll be sitting down and chatting live on stage to legendary UK comedy writer and twitter guru Graham Linehan.
Also, I'll be attempting the new trick that I promised to try to learn last month (newsflash - it's not going well...), we'll be showing some rare archive variety footage, I'll be telling you what happened when I was a guest on the Jonathan Ross Show last week, plus lots more actual fun surprises!
It's going to happen at the Bethnal Green Working Mens Club, East London, on March 8th. Doors 7pm, show 8pm sharp.
It's a small venue, and tickets are limited.
For years the Turk, a chess-playing automaton, toured Europe and America, delighting audiences and besting Catherine the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. But the Turk was a trick: Somewhere inside the cabinet was a human, playing the pieces on the board. No one knew how it worked at the time. Then, in 1854, it was destroyed in a fire and the illusion was lost. The Turk reappeared 130 years later, in Atwater, California, re-created from fragments by John Gaughan, a master magic builder who spent $120,000 of his own money on the duplicitous automaton.
I've featured the work of net-savvy, happily mutated juggler and magician Mat Ricardo here before. Now he's planning quite an astounding show in east London. He sez,
Further to the tale of how I soul-searched, and crowd-sourced to revitalise my career - I'm launching a unique new monthly variety show in London.
The best performers from the glory days of light entertainment and the dangerous years of alternative comedy, plus the current stars of cabaret will - for the first time - share the same bill and create a series of unique, one-night-only line-ups. In addition to this, every month we'll invite an old hand - a star of their world - a master of their craft - or just someone I particularly love - to perform and then sit down with me for a live on stage interview about their life, career and influences.
And in association with SoundsWilde and the British Comedy Guide, we'll be recording the whole thing for release as a podcast.
It's a love letter to the people who inspired me, and who have kept variety alive in the workingmens clubs, comedy venues, festival stages and streets around the world, and I couldn't be more excited about some of the guests I'll be having the pleasure of introducing. In the coming months we'll have some of the most thrilling, astonishing and spectacular acts you've ever seen, not to mention some household names giving you a glimpse into the life of a performer, and a few of the up and coming talents who are helping to spearhead the resurgence of variety. You can expect everyone from Royal Variety show veterans, to street performers, to TV stars. Each night is truly going to be something special.
Theory11's $6 Steampunk Playing Cards are manufactured in concert with the American Playing Card company on custom bronze-effect paper stock. The cards feature machinelike illustrations and are really rather well done.
A physics teacher created this video showing how to make a penny "disappear" by placing a Pyrex beaker over it and filling it up with water, asking why and how this illusion worked. On IO9, Esther Inglis-Arkell explains how the effect is achieved -- it's all down to the strange motion of light in water.
So when the penny is at the bottom of the beaker, there's only one sharp turn that the light from the penny has to make, from the pyrex dish to the air. The water-to-pyrex transition is comparatively mild, with little bending. The penny is distorted, but it's visible. When the wet penny is beneath the dish, but under another layer of water, the light also only has one sharp turn — back into the air at the end of its journey. Before that it only travels through water and pyrex, which have similar indices of refraction, and so it isn't bent much.
When the penny 'disappears,' though, it is taking two sharp turns, the massive turns between the pyrex and the air both at the bottom of the beaker and at the side. And, because of the way light bends, both turns are in the same direction, away from the eye of the viewer. Imagine the beaker full of water like an immense piece of rectangular carpeting on the concrete floor, and the light like a person on roller skates. (No, seriously, this will help.) The viewer is on the right side of this carpet. In order for them to see the penny, just under the bottom of the carpet, the light has to get from the penny to them.