Whatever they say about boxes and creativity, Derek McKee has different ideas.
As part of a fundraiser for the Little Red Wagon Foundation, McKee will live in a Plexiglas box for a week stationed at 16th Street Mall in Denver. While in the box, he’ll perform magic for passers by, according to a report in the Littleton Independent.
McKee, who has performed at The Magic Castle and was featured in “Make Believe,” said he hopes to raise food donations and raise awareness about what Denver’s estimated 1,500 homeless youth and teens endure. The boxed benefit is the product of a lot of talking and brainstorming with friends, family and mentors, he said.
“It’s a way to raise awareness about Denver’s homeless youth and to have the most unique canned-food drive in the state. This subgenre of kids are the most likely to be bullied, beaten up, put into sex slavery and abused, and are the mostly likely to die at a young age.”
The foundation gathers those supplies in “Zachpacks,” which contain basics such as food and hygiene products, and other goodies such as toys and coloring books. McKee is a board member of the foundation, which was started by Zach Bonner in 2005.
According to advance reviews from magicians, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” appears to be one of the movies that gets it right. Steve Carell and Jim Carrey do admirable jobs portraying a magician who struggles to reclaim former glory from an upstart competitor. We’ll probably try to catch a showing down the road — our schedules are pretty packed with projects and gigs right now.
But just in case it lets us all down, however, these are four movies that we know don’t disappoint. In case you suffer a letdown at the theater, pick one of these movies up to have your faith in movie magic restored.
Magicians: Robert Webb and David Mitchell play two former partners split up by an intentional affair and an accidental beheading. The resulting competition satires the rivalry between magicians brilliantly as the two try to revive their careers. It features great cameos from Ali Bongo, Aladin, Patrick Page and Scott Penrose, and is HILARIOUS.
The Escape Artist: Known more as a cult hit among Coppola fans, Griffin O’Neal does what we all wish we could do: Take down corrupt city officials with the power of our magic. The movie has great performances from Raul Julia, Terri Garr and Desi Arnaz as it tells the story of a young magician following in the footsteps of his dead father — played by Harry Anderson.
The Great Buck Howard: Is this a sendup of The Amazing Kreskin? Who cares? It’s a great movie with powerful acting and great magic cameos, including David Blaine and Ricky Jay. Also in the cast are Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn and the titular character is played brilliantly by John Malkovich. The movie’s message is that the only important thing is the performance.
The Prestige: One of the greatest tricks this movie performs is convincing the world that we magicians actually use the terms “pledge,” “turn” and “prestige.” That being said, this is probably our favorite movie about magicians. Featuring outstanding acting, outstanding directing and a plot that makes us immediately watch again, “The Prestige” captures the thrill of magic perfectly.
Bonus point — The Illusionist: It hit the theaters at about the same time as 2006′s “The Prestige,” and it uses some computer animation in place of actual magic, so “The Illusionist” gets overshadowed. But it’s a compelling story about performing an elaborate magic tricks for an audience of one.
FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to email@example.com
Grab a deck of your favorite cards. Time to play some magician’s solitaire. If you’ve never heard of magician’s solitaire, no worries — no one has. We created this, and we’re sharing it with you now. The rules are simple:
Shuffle the deck, so that the cards are random.
Perform a double lift and turnover, then note the card you reveal. Any double lift works: push-off, strike, Diving Board, anything. (You can learn the push-off double lift in Crash Course 2 or in this download.)
Replace the double, then swing cut. (Choose your cut position carefully… this is the game’s action.)
Perform another double lift, then note that card.
If the second card you reveal has a “crazy eights” type of link — meaning that it matches in either suit or value — then you’ve successfully completed a play. For instance: Seven of diamonds, four of diamonds, four of clubs, king of clubs would count as a run of four cards.
Optional: If you use jokers, consider those wild cards and count them in your run of consecutive plays. (Give yourself bonus points if you can name the suit you reveal after the joker.)
The goal is to get the highest run of consecutive plays.
You may shuffle the deck after a few plays, if you want. Also, play at a brisk pace — but without sacrificing the mechanics of your double lift. The quicker you can clip along, the more this game will do what it intends. So go ahead, try a few hands for yourself.
Hard, isn’t it?
Getting a run of three or four is good. Five or six is impressive. Nine or 10, and we start wondering if you cheated.
If you’re one of those people who, upon finding out that something fun is educational loses interest, then stop reading now. But this game helps you train and be a better performer in a couple of ways. That raises the question: Why exactly are we doing this? We know plenty of ways to find chosen and controlled cards, so why would we base the success of this game on the random element in step No. 3?
Solitaire is supposed to be impossible, remember? Yet the impossible elements of this game help you increase your ability to do some pretty critical things when you’re out in the field and all eyes are on you and your hands:
~ Your chosen double lift will get better. Any sleight, from double lifts to passes (and even some flourishes that feature a single card such as Daryl’s Hot Shot Cut), that involves showing a random card works with this game. The more you work on that move, of course, the better you’ll get. But concentrating on something else helps the move become second nature.
~ How many tricks do you know have a part where you have to glimpse a card and remember it? From using a key card to doing a Biddle trick, we can think of a high number of routines that have a component where you have to steal a look at a card. Remember that there are things other than sleight of hand that you should practice. This game is a way to practice your ability of noting and remembering a certain card on the fly, thus strengthening your short-term memory.
So how’d you do? Post your high score below, and remember that if you know that you’re cheating, then so do we.
Life happens. We get older, we get more responsibilities, and magic might fall by the wayside.
That’s where John Ronan was about 10 years ago. The Delaware magician backed off and lost interest, focusing on family. About three years ago, he sold a lot of his stuff.
But magic never dies in us. John found that out. The bug bit him again, and he started to restock. He got interested in performing again, and rejoined his local magic club.
Over the holidays, he bought two orders from Ellusionist that qualified for earning pieces in our 2012 Holiday Giveaway. The first pieces weren’t encouraging, he said. Later, he did another order, and couldn’t believe the pieces he got: He ended up winning the five-minute, $1,000 limit shopping spree.
Talk about a great way to restock.
Ronan cashed in on his prize Saturday. Armed with a strategy, he stocked up on gaff card systems, the Metal trilogy and playing cards — A LOT of playing cards. 12 Blue LTDs, 14 Madison Rounders, 60 Red Masters and 40 Blue Masters. With other merchandise, he got all the way up to $996.99.
He was one of the big winners in our Holiday Contest. Ronan and 18 other winners cleaned up by collecting pieces and forming poker hands. The following are the winners:
~ 50′ TV, Apple TV, Loaded External Harddrive: Steve Petusky
~ Triple Crown Display Case: Darren Armstrong
~ Signed Uncut LTD Sheet: Richard Krueger
~ Arcane Lucite Case – Gold Edition: Cedrick Burcena, Adrian Gerard, Brandon White
Earlier in February, members of the Black Club received a strange, unannounced black package. Inside the black bubble-wrapped mailers were a deck of cards and a letter from Daniel Madison, asking members to sample the deck and report their feelings about the cards on our Facebook page.
Members responded with incredible pictures and glowing reviews.
Madison Rounders, the new deck of cards from Madison and Ellusionist, reflect his unique take on card work and design. Done in a minimal style, the cards are elegant, subtle and polished. Everything from the backs to the casino-worthy Ace of Spades reflects a simple style that gets to the heart of card handling.
“I have always thought that everything beautiful is either intricate or simple, and I am drawn to the latter, especially in design.”
Black Club members agree. Check out some of these reviews we’ve received:
~ CHRIS COULSTING: It’s true simple is almost always better, and that makes this deck work. Court cards are great, and at first glance don’t even seem custom. Even the simplicity of the box is really attractive, and yes, I’m playing with them at this moment.
~ XAVIER JERUSALEM: The stock is flawless, and the simplicity of the deck is second to none. The flow of the cards are as smooth as water. Simply beautiful.
~ GREG WALLIS: I just received my deck last week and have played with it a lot. The simplicity of the deck design gives the deck its strength. The stock is absolutely perfect. My flourishes are now effortless and the deck adds to the elegance of my performances. No other deck I own handles quite so nicely and easily. I own over 2,000 (yes, two thousand) other decks and this is by far the very best. Awesome job Daniel and the Ellusionist team…another fantastic product. Keep it up!!
~ DVITTO PATILLA: Elegant, smooth, pretty, original and of course perfect handling… Can’t really ask for more. This is THE deck. Apart from if you like the design, the colors or those customized court cards, the deck is just perfect. You just need to spread them and feel them to know it.
Find out for yourself. Get your Madison Rounders decks while you can, and add your review to the list.