Archive for April, 2012

The first hacker was a magician

Friday, April 27th, 2012’s website is a merry source of information. However apparently the worlds first hacker wasn’t a teenager playing chess with a mono-chromatic opponent bent on world domination. Read on for more.

From WarGames to The Matrix and, um, Hackers? We guess? 3L337x0rz hackers have been sticking it to The Man ever since the Web was invented.

But Previously, in the Real World …

One afternoon in June of 1903, John Ambrose Fleming and his boss, Italian radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, were about to demonstrate Marconi’s new high-tech wireless telegraph system to a crowded theater in London. But right before Fleming was scheduled to receive a wireless message from Marconi, the equipment started tapping out the word “rats” over and over, followed by the Edwardian era equivalent of a rap battle diss:

“There was a young fellow of Italy
Who fiddled the public quite prettily”

And all the ladies swooned while the gentlemen got their flummox on, loudly exclaiming things like “I say!” and “Why I never!” Fleming and Marconi were understandably furious that someone would so lewdly interrupt their demonstration — Marconi actually went on record describing it as “scientific hooliganism” (dibs on the Tumblr name!). But who could have possessed the resources and know-how to hack into wireless technology that had barely even been invented yet?

The answer came four days later when Nevil Maskelyne, a fabulously mustachioed magician whose grandson you may have heard of, confessed to the prank in a letter to The Times. When Marconi arrogantly started bragging about not only the efficacy but also the impenetrable security of his new wireless system, Maskelyne, being a proud member of his multigenerational anachronistic scientist/battle-magician bloodline, did the only reasonable thing: He promptly whipped up his own homemade radio tower and proceeded to hack into Marconi’s “secure” signal.

Maskelyne justified his actions by stating that he simply wanted to expose the security risks of the new wireless technology to the public — which is basically word for word what modern hackers say when you ask them why they replaced every uppercase “I” on the CIA website with a crude cartoon dick. Funny, though: It seems so much more plausible coming from the smirking space directly beneath an old-timey magician’s mustache than from the Twitter account of an acne-pocked teenager in Denmark.

The Jam Session

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Everywhere you go in magic circles at some point or another you’ll hear magicians utter the word ‘Jam‘ or ‘Session‘. What exactly is a ‘Jam‘ and why do we ‘Session‘?

A ‘Jam Session‘ when talking about magic,  is usually when a group of magicians get together to share ideas or work on new routines. Mostly just to hang out and be around the thing that they love, magic. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by amazing magicians my entire career and the jam sessions I’ve been blessed to be in are nothing short of amazing. It’s almost like being at a convention when ever I hang out. I know that this type of thing doesn’t happen for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that ‘Jam Sessions’ aren’t worth the time.

When I do go to these sessions topics of all types are brought up. Anything from sleights to theory of why you should place an object somewhere.

The sessions go much deeper than just tricks. It’s about improvement all around. I’ve even had discussions as to why a suit jacket should be buttoned or unbuttoned while performing, and even how to comb your hair.

Early in my magic career I thought topics like this were ridiculous and not needed. I believed that attention to such ‘trivial’ detail was nothing more than ‘old’ guys listening to themselves talk. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

As I quickly learned, everyone has something to learn and you can learn something from everyone if you know how to listen. ‘Jam Sessions‘ are a wonderful way for magicians to meet, connect, share ideas and invent new ones. Some of which we use today because the people who we know as ‘Legends‘ did just that. Don’t be afraid to go out and go to magic shops, meet other magicians, and most importantly don’t put others down. Don’t discourage anyone and be open to ideas. You may create the next amazing thing by just listening and working out ‘kinks‘.

The bottom line is for me that I’ve noticed a trend in the magic world lately of hiding ‘secrets‘ from other magicians. There seems to be less ‘comradery‘ in our gild of the magi. Let’s get back the days when we shared and helped each other grow. Start a jam session and help each other out. Share ideas, and most importantly grow together.


What do you want to know?

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
  • Ray Cosby
  • Tony Clark
  • Dan Harlan
  • Jon Racherbaumer
  • Nathan Kranzo
  • Paul Gernter
  • Mike Vincent
  • Richard Osterland
  • Carl Cloutier
  • Doug Conn
  • Gaston Quieto
  • Marcus Eddie
  • Akria Fujii
  • John Gustaferro
  • Rich Aviles
  • Woody Aragon
  • Kainoa Harbottle
  • Caleb Wiles
  • Pit Hartling

Why am I listing all of these magicians?

Because this is your opportunity to ask them anything you want. In the upcoming weeks I’m going to be interviewing these well known magicians and more. I know there are questions that I’ve always wanted to ask them and now you can too. Submit your questions below and have your chance to be answered by some of the great thinkers of our time. All questions must be submitted by April 27,2012 at noon EST. This is going to be EPIC!

-Xavior Spade

That move is way too hard!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Do all the hard moves you like!

For a long time, I’ve practiced many card moves in order to have an arsenal of techniques to help me out of many situations. That being said, some of the moves are not the most “practical” but are useful in certain situations. Some of the moves are very difficult but allow for minimal obvious movement and others require a good amount of misdirection. Regardless, it always seems that someone has a move that’s better, or a reason as to why the move I’m doing isn’t the best choice. 

To be honest, I believe that every move has a purpose and also everyone has a move that they can do very well in almost any condition. There are so many tricks, moves, controls, steals etc. that it’s almost impossible to learn them all. But just because you have a move that you’re comfortable with does that mean that you shouldn’t learn any others? If the move is hard, does that mean that it’s useless because there is an easier way? Should we always look for shortcuts?

I’ve found that sometimes the best way to reach my goal in a close up effect is to use moves that can be considered “difficult” or moves that “can be achieved with a double lift.”

This is usually spot on, the end result is the same but sometimes using a difficult move can create moments where seemingly nothing has happened and I can do things “away from the heat”. This is why I practice those moves, especially with cards. When doing card effects I try to make the effect as streamlined and “hands off” as possible. My goal is to make my audience think that I never touched the deck.

Too often  most people say that moves are too difficult or are not needed don’t take the time to really study the move and its possibilities–by saying that something is “too hard” you’re putting up blocks in your learning and in your performance.

I’ve been luck enough to be surrounded by some of the most amazing slight of hand professionals of our time and I’ve never heard them say that something is “too hard“, instead they say “I’m gonna have to practice this for a while” or “let me play with this and see if I can use it“.

Test your limits and try something you’ve never done before. Practice hard and develop a solid practice routine and before you know it people will be telling you “that move is way too hard.” It’s actually a really good feeling because usually that person can’t or won’t take the time that you have and will not get as far as you will go.

Tell me what you think of “hard moves”. And tell me what are your thoughts as well.


CONTEST: 3 Ways to Win the Ultimate IMX2012 Experience with Free Passes!

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

With less than 6 weeks until IMX2012 – we’ve bought out plane tickets, we’ve got our hotel booked, our itinerary planned – and we realised while packing our bags that we actually had 3 extra passes – 3 passes we figured we’d give to you, so you can join us for the greatest convention of the year. Hosted in Vegas, with names like Greg Wilson, Jeff McBride, Dani DaOrtiz and Lennart Green along for the ride, you know this thing is going to be HUGE.

But enough about all that – we know what you really want to know. How do you get your hands on these fabled tickets? It’s simple, so get your bags packed. We’re giving you 3 ways to get your hands on them. The more ways you enter – the more chances you have to win.

Way 1. Twitter

Win in 140 Characters or less! Simply Follow @Ellusionist and @IMXLasVegas, and tell us WHO you want to see the most, and why – making sure to use the hashtag #IMX2012. We’ll pick the most creative, honest, humorous – basically the best tweet that complies with the above conditions, and we’ll give them a free pass to the convention.  You’ll also get to hang out with us – come by the booth and meet Brad, Jason, Peter and Eric – we’ll all be there. You can even bring us nachos from the buffet. We like nachos.


Way 2. Facebook

We want to know just how much you really want to win the Ultimate IMX2012 experience. So – we’re not going to tell you what you need to do, you’ll need to tell us what you’re willing to do to win. Would you be nice to your sister for a whole day? Would you string up a massive ‘Please Ellusionist, Send me to IMX2012!’ sign at the next NFL Game you attend? Would you give away your entire collection of playing cards to a Hospital or Nursing Home – including Gold Arcanes?

Simply post on Facebook what you’re willing to do, tag @Ellusionist: Magic Beyond Belief and @IMX International Magic Experience – and cross your fingers that you’re chosen. But be honest in what you’re willing to do – because if you win, you will need to do it – and we’ll verify it before we send you tickets. Again, most humorous, creative and downright epic post will win.


Way 3. Pinterest

What? What’s Pinterest? How do I win with this thing? First – crawl out from under that rock. Pinterest is here, and it’s great fun. It’s basically a collection of Pinboards of everything you find and want to share on the web. There’s boards for Brownie Recipes, LOLCats, Wishlists, Cool Gadgets, Travel – and even Magic. It’s the fastest growing social media community on the web – and we’re doing awesome things with it – including sending one Pinterester to IMX2012. To win, follow @Ellusionist on Pinterest and create a ‘What a Free Ticket to #IMX2012 from Ellusionist Means to Me’ Board. Then get Pinning!

Whether it’s the sights of Vegas, Piff the Magic Dragon, buying Arcanes, Artifice Decks and PureSmoke at our Booth (hint hint – pin or repin from or cruising around town in one of those giant Pink Stretch Hummers – we want to know what a free ProPass to the Ultimate IMX2012 experience means to you. Not on Pinterest yet? Register on and start following us for your chance to win – as there’ll be more ways to win with Pinterest in the future from us as well.


All entries will close on Friday, 27th of April at 9pm EST. Winners will be announced across our social media streams on the evening of Sunday 29th of April – giving you 3 weeks until IMX2012.

That’s 3 Easy Ways we’re giving you to win a Free ProPass Registration to IMX2012 Las Vegas, as well as the chance to come hang out with us while we’re kickin’ it there too. So – go out there and get to ‘tweepospinning’ – that’s right, we just made our own buzzword.

We can do that, we’re awesome.

Good luck to everyone. Make those entries count – we’ll keep everyone updated as things progress, and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at IMX2012.