FISM 2012 Scores & Videos

I imagine that the final FISM 2012 scores have been published for some time, though I just ran into them.  You can find them in a PDF file here.

I’m particularly interested in the Stage categories.  The majority of the contestants have videos of their acts published on YouTube – which allows for some pretty interesting viewing.  By and large, I found I agreed with rankings overall.  Here, for your convenience as well, are the scores with videos (for those that I was able to find).

Legend: Contest Name, Country, FISM PRIZE, SCORE, Video (if available)

Manipulation
Yu Ho-Jin GRAND PRIX STAGE Korea 1st Prize 87 – YouTube Video
Lukas Korea 2nd Prize 83
Kim Hyun Joon Korea 3rd Prize 82 – YouTube Video
Lee Ang Hsuan Taiwan 74 -YouTube Video
Mike Chao Taiwan 73 -YouTube Video
Dion The Netherlands 70 – YouTube Video
Kenris France 69 – YouTube Video
Nestor Hato France 69 -YouTube Video
Jean Paul Olhaberry Chili 67
Felix Spain 65
Hirohi Yamamoto Japan 65
Lumbardini Argentina 64 – YouTube Video
Matteo Cucchi Italy 64
Jojo China 62
Lee Young Woo USA 62 – YouTube Video
Miguel Muñoz Spain 62
Jiang Ya Ping China 61 – YouTube Video
Mantas Latvia 59 – YouTube Video
Chisato Suzuki Japan 59
Paulo Maderal Argentina 59
Florian Sainvet France 59 – YouTube Video
Reuben Moreland USA 54
Valdi Bulgaria BFL

General Magic
Marko Karvo Finland 1st Prize 84 – YouTube Video
Haon Gun Korea 2nd Prize – 82
Les Chapaux Blancs France 2nd Prize 82 – YouTube Video
Ta Na Manga Portugal 3rd Prize 77 – YouTube Video
Lee Hun Korea 76
Ted Kim (Most Original Stage Act) Korea 73
Alana Germany 73 – YouTube Video
Liu Bei China 72
Charlie Mag Spain 68 – YouTube Video
Dolly Kent Argentina 67 – YouTube Video
Xin Ya Fei China 67
Nicky Yang Korea 66
Bond Lee Hong Kong 66 – YouTube Video
Luca Bono Italy 64 – YouTube Video, YouTube Video
Oe Tsuyoshi Japan 64
Jakob Germany 64
Brynolf & Ljung
Pablo Lambertini Argentina 64 – YouTube Video
Dai Kobayashi
Max Guito France 62 – YouTube Video
Chipin Huang
Sunny Chen
Do Ki Moon Korea 62 – YouTube video
Huang Po Han
Jason Ladin
Xavier Tapias Switzerland 61 – YouTube video

Illusion
Prince of Illusions The Netherlands 1st Prize 86 – YouTube video
Cubic Act France 2nd Prize 75 – YouTube video
Guy Barrett England 3rd Prize 67 – YouTube video
Flick-Flack Modern Magic Germany 63 – YouTube video

A Carter Elephant Vanish Poster

Carter’s Elephant illusion is a favorite of those who decorate restaurants with movie posters.

- Robinson, Ben. “Disappearing and Appearing Elephants” in Osborne, Paul. Illusions: The Evolution and the Revolution of the Magic Box. Illusion Systems Publishing: Dallas. 1995. Pp. 111-134. Cover | Full Title.

As if proving Ben Robinson’s proclamation, I nearly walked past this Carter the Great poster, as I was walking out of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Newark, NJ.

Carter the Great's Vanishing Elephant Poster

Carter the Great’s Vanishing Elephant Poster

This 8-sheet was printed by Otis Lithograph around 1926.

The Elephant eight-sheet you have made into a money-getter. I am sure as soon as my multitudinous friends around the world put their peepers on this sheet and the others, they will run posthaste to my box office with their golden elusive shekels, entreating me in suppliant cajolery to relieve them of their coin in exchange of feasting their senses on my many new mysteries which your painstaking efforts on my behalf have so graphically and seductively emblazoned forth in myriad greens and reds and purples royal.

- Charles Carter to Carl Moellmann of the Otis Lithograph Co.

As published in Caveney, Mike. Carter the Great. Pasadena: Mike Caveney’s Magic Words. 1995. P. 226. Limited edition of 1,000 copies. Cover | Full Title.

Of the trick itself, Milbourne Christopher describes the illusion thusly:

Remembering Houdini’s success with “The Vanishing Elephant.” Carter decided to build a similar illusion. Models were constructed for several ingenious cabinets, none of which met with his approval. He tried a different approach. As he visualized the feat, an elephant would stand on a platform; curtains would be lowered around it; then platform and elephant would be hauled into the air. The curtains would be raised just enough for the audience to see the pachyderm’s feet; then they would be dropped to the level of the platform. A pistol shot from the illusionist would cause the elephant to disappear. Carter built the apparatus, bought an elephant, and began to rehearse. There was an unexpected complication; the elephant would not cooperate. She bolted from the platform as it was being raised. The show opened at His Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane in 1927 with four girls (“The Disappearing Flappers”) vanishing on the platform instead of the elephant.

- Christopher, Milbourne. The Illustrated History of Magic. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company. 1973. P. 324.  Cover | Full Title

According to Caveney’s Carter the Great book, Carter placed an initial order of 1,248 copies at a cost of 52¢ per poster. Today, you can by unmounted copies for $500 or $625, or with regularity at auction. The comparatively low price, presumably, because no one has the ceiling height to display it…

Latin Dance & Richiardi

In case you missed it, The New Yorker published a wonderful piece a month or so back on pickpocket Apollo Robbins.

 In pursuit of his craft, Robbins has ended up incorporating principles from such disparate fields as aikido, sales, and Latin ballroom dancing

Robbins demonstrated his method on me. “When I shake someone’s hand, I apply the lightest pressure on their wrist with my index and middle fingers and lead them across my body to my left,” he said, showing me. “The cross-body lead is actually a move from salsa dancing. I’m finding out what kind of a partner they’re going to be, and I know that if they follow my lead I can do whatever I want with them.

- Green, Adam. “A Pickpocket’s Tale: The spectacular thefts of Apollo Robbins” in The New YorkerOnline.

(Emphasis mine.) One other side note: if you are reading The New Yorker piece for the first time, don’t miss the associated video which has been less heavily linked to online.

Salsa dancing, latin ballroom dancing.  Hmm… What other magician had a history in ballroom dancing?  Richardi, Jr. (Aldo Izquierdo Colosi).

According to Richiardi’s Magicpedia entry, “After his father’s death in the United States, he saved up enough money to move back home to Argentina (where most of his father’s illusion were stored). He attended military school and studied singing and dancing.” Some additional references showing Richiardi’s dance background:

 He has 25 years of theatrical experience since he has been a singer and dancer in his father’s magic show since he was six years old…

Most of the show is in pantomime. Richiardi and his assistants run out on the stage and they dance throughout the show in the manner of a modern interpretive ballet. I must stress that his dancing and positions are at all times suited to the music and has an easy grace although it is completely masculine and in keeping with his characterization of a charming young “miracle-worker.” As an entertainer, Richiardi, Jr. is very much like Sammy Davis, Jr., and as a dancer he is very much like Gene Kelley whom we see in motion pictures. Actually, Richiardi, Jr. presents his magic on the stage as it might be presented in an Hollywood musical film.

- Furst, Arnold. “Richairdi Jr:, A Review of his show at the Royal Theatre, Portsmouth, England” in Genii. Vol 20, No. 9 / May 1956. Pp. 354-357. AskAlexander (Login required).

 

An interview in which we learn that he was also an “amateur bullfighter”!

P.: You did something that very few magicians ever do: you took lessons in singing and dancing. Renowned critic John Simon, whose word is almost gospel, said; “you bring theatre to magic”. What made you do that in that time . . . it’s some time ago and you were so young!?

R.. Well, because I thought that this was the time to bring something new to magic and I could sing, I knew .. . if I tried. I could dance too, because I was an amateur bullfighter and that would give me movement and the style. So I wanted to do magic different to my grandfather and to my father. Well, since I am not a hypnotist, I am not a ventriloquist, so what could I do new in magic? Music, dancing, singing and girls I did, at that time a very beautiful magic show

- Interview with Peter Pit at the Magic Castle on November 7, 1981.  Published as an obituary in “Richiardi – The Man – His Magic” in  Genii. Vol. 49, No. 4 / October 1985. Pp. 245-250. AskAlexander (Login required).

And Jeff McBride, explaining Richiardi’s influence on his magic:

When I was growing up, watching magic acts in the 70s, basically magicians didn’t move. There wasn’t a lot of dance, other than Richiardi who put that kind of Latin fire in his movement and a lot of these adagio and kind of flamenco Latin poses in his show.

- Jeff McBride, interviewed by Eugene Burger in “The Showmanship Interviews” Genii. Vol 74, No. 5 / May 2011, Pp. 60-63. AskAlexander (login required).

I feel Richiardi’s broom levitation, in particular, displays the influence of his roots in Latin dance.  Have a look at this (unfortunately very low quality) clip of the Richiardi levitation (at beginning and end).

Alakazam!

I subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary word of the day e-mail.  “Alakazam” was the word selected for March 1.

 alakazam, int.

[‘Used as an exclamation imparting supposed magical power, as when performing a trick. Hence in extended use, connoting any sudden transformation or happening. Cf. abracadabra int.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌaləkəˈzam/,  U.S. /ˌæləkəˈzæm/

Forms:  19– alagazam,   19– alakazam,   19– alakazap,   19– alakazoo,   19– alakazoop,   19– alakazot.

Etymology:Apparently an arbitrary formation, invented to sound like a word in an unspecified foreign language, with the intention of creating an air of exoticism and mystery. In use as a magical exclamation perhaps approximately suggested by abracadabra n., although compare discussion below.

Earlier currency is suggested by the following (facetious) use in a street name:

1881 Daily Evening Bull. (San Francisco) 6 Aug. 1/5 Camp Capitola. Description of a New Seaside Resort in Santa Cruz County… The party who laid out the streets..gave vent to his facetious bent in naming them. Glancing at the names..are seen Fishbone avenue, Alagazam street, Rat Tail alley and Soda Water avenue.

Compare also the following earlier examples, in which this expression (in various spellings) is used facetiously with relation to the use of foreign words and phrases in English linguistic contexts with the intention to impress or to create an air of sophistication:

1884 Hawaiian Monthly May 119/2 At this point the conversation was interrupted by the tones of a deep, rich bass voice belonging to a gentleman, who sat directly behind the alagazam idiot: ‘Asinus, asini, asiniorum’.

1896 N.Y. Tribune 24 May 17/6, I ain’t had a square meal sence Been fillin’ up on Charley horse rusies, sooflay de allakazam, an’ all them French dishes.

The form Alagazam is also attested earlier in popular music, earliest as the title of composition first released as a ragtime piano score and subsequently published with lyrics:

1902  A. Holzmann ‘Alagazam!’ Cake Walk, March and Two Step 3 The theme and title of this composition suggested itself to the writer during a trip to the South where he saw a colored regiment, who, while marking time during drill..were uttering a peculiar refrain which sounded like—Alagazam! Alagazam! Alagazam! Zam! Zam!

1903  A. Holzmann Alagazam. Song. 5 Zam Zam Zam was the title they gave him Zam Zam Zam our mighty Alagazam.

With the explanation given by Holzmann for the title of his piece compare the later composition by Harry von Tilzer and Andrew B. Sterling entitled Alagazam to the Music of the Band (1915). With forms showing apparently arbitrary variation in the final syllable (as alakazoop, alakazoo, etc.), compare the following comic song, where a different alteration of Alakazam (apparently presented as though the name of a foreign country, state, or city) features in each successive verse (The Countess of Alagazoop, The Countess of Alagazip, etc.).

1904  R. Cole Countess of Alagazam 3 They christen’d a girl somewhere in the world, The Countess of Alagazam.

It has been suggested that the expression arose in the medicine shows that toured America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, although contemporary evidence to confirm this appears to be lacking.

Used as an exclamation imparting supposed magical power, as when performing a trick. Hence in extended use, connoting any sudden transformation or happening. Cf. abracadabra int.

In quot. 1902 as part of an extended magical formula.

1902 Sun (Baltimore) 30 Mar. 12/1 It was a wishing-spell, and whoever repeated it could be anywhere or do anything he desired… It read like this: ‘Alakazam Bazazza Ki! Hickory Dickory Dock. Omega Om Opeeka Pi? O Donnerwetter Hoch!’

1904 Philadelphia Inquirer 28 Apr. 9/5 ‘Alagazam’—To make your eyebrows heavier apply daily with a small brush a lotion of olive oil..bay rum..quinine.

1920 El Paso (Texas) Herald 10 July (Comic Section, Katzenjammer Kids), I am Professaire Dopo Ze Hypnoteest! I get your lettaire!.. Alakazam! You sleep! When you wake up you are good leetle boys!

1930 Daily News (N.Y.) 2 Mar. (Final ed.) 35/1 ‘Alagazam’..is a term in wide use among members of a profession which has long sickened reputable physicians and honest druggists, not to mention the general public.

1951  in Newslet. Amer. Dial. Soc. Sept. 22/1 The whirlwind courtship of Elmer Sitts… With Elmer and Gladys it was just slam, bam, Alakazam! Timber! This is it!

1988 N.Y. Post 21 Oct. 10/1 Sit down with these guys and—alakazam!—you’re in the Broadway world most folks thought was long gone.

2009 N.Y. Times (National ed.) 30 Oct. a23/1 He is unlikely to be judged kindly by subway and bus riders if they do not see—alakazam!—quick improvement in fraying service.

Most of these first uses have little to do with magic until 1902. Interestingly, the spelling is predominantly “alagazam”. Presumably, Magician Mark Wilson cemented the alternate spelling into common use due to his  marketing strategy of his show sponsor.  In his words:

Here is how the name “Allakazam” came about. Certainly, the tie-in with the “Wizard of Oats,” who magically created All Stars, was a natural for a magic show. To strengthen that association, “Allakazam” was incorporated into the show’s name. The word Allakazam itself has a magical connotation. The Wizard sang in the commercials …”Kelloggs All Stars, Allakazam. What a wonderful wizard I am.” Now that was a direct tie-in with that new product. Even more specifically, Allikazam was written with two lower case “l”s. This was to position the “K” as the center letter … AllaKazam. In that way, whenever the word AllaKazam was seen graphically, such as when it appeared at the top of the street sign-post on our primary set, it had the giant Kelloggs “K” logo as the middle letter.

- Wilson, Mark. “The Inside Story. Number 5.” In Genii. October 2003/Vol. 66, #10. P. 24. Ask Alexander (login required).

The logo in question can be seen at 1:00 and 1:26 here:

Monster’s Inc. Ride

I thought I would continue with the last posts’ Disneyland theme.  While The Haunted Mansion is a bit too obvious of a magic tie-in, there are other bits of video-reflected Pepper’s Ghosts hidden in the Sleeping Beauty’s Disneyland Castle Walkthru, in Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and others.

However my pick for best use is hidden in the middle of the Monster’s Inc ride.

See 1:30 in this video

Alternate footage here – jump to 2:10

Or quickly in HD at 1:47 here:

Here the restricted viewing angle (and even symmetric periphery) is perfectly justified by its placement within a shower room scene. The setup is almost a “Blue Room” arrangement, though the effect is definitely Pepper’s Ghost.  Equally, it’s disappearance perfectly motivated by the chameleon character being, well, a chameleon.

Disneyland Magic Shop windows

Houdini Magic's<br />
Disneyland magic shop” src=”http://conjuringbooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/disney.jpg?w=300″ width=”300″ height=”225″ /></a>I recently revisited the<br />
Disneyland Magic Shop in California and snapped some photos of the<br />
gorgeous window display that <a href=Houdini
Magic
has erected. Ostensibly an exploded view of
Houdini’s traveling trunk – the focus is on Houdini memorabilia.
However, conjuring books comprise a good portion of the
display.  You can spot copies of titles such as:

  • Jasper
    Maskelyne’s
    White Magic: The Story
    of the Maskelyne’s
  • Hoffmann’s
    Modern
    Magic
  • Houdini’s Book of
    Magic and Party Pastimes
  • Hopkins’
    Magic: Stage Illusions
    & Scientific Diversions including Trick
    Photography
  • Henry
    Ridgely Evans’
    The Spirit World
    Unmasked

Other nice touches I
appreciated:

  • A
    handkerchief, tied and awaiting performance of The Dancing
    Handkerchief.
  • A
    hidden mickey subtly created
    from an Ace of Clubs
  • One
    volume eponymously titled “Munari” after store owner (and likely
    display designer) Geno Munari 

The Orange County Register included a brief history of
the Disneyland magic shop in this
article written shortly before Houdini Magic Shop’s
opening
:

Magic shops have a long
tradition in Disneyland. The first one — Merlin’s Magic Shop —
opened near the Sleeping Beauty Castle on the park’s first day
in 1955. The Main Street Magic Shop opened two years later. After
Merlin’s closed in 1983, the Main Street location remained. Actor
Steve Martin got his start at Merlin’s and briefly worked at the
Main Street shop. While Disneyland has run the Main Street shop
since 1965, it was previously run by an outside operator. Houdini’s
was selected because of its strong reputation and the fact that it
holds rights to key magic tricks, said David Gill, a Disneyland
spokesman. Plus, Houdini’s will employ certified magicians to do
tricks for guests inside the shop.

Another
article with additional photos can be found here.
The photos Disneyland MS 7 Disneyland MS 6 Disneyland MS 5 Disneyland MS 4 Disneyland MS 3 Disneyland MS 2 Disneyland MS 1

Graphic design & Page layout

The primary function of a magic book, of course, is to teach magic secrets.  It’s the contents and clarity that are usually the focus of the reader. But sometimes, the form is interesting, too.

I think I first began paying attention to the form of the book – the layout and design of the words and pictures on the page – when I laid eyes on Jim Steinmeyer’s The Magic of Alan Wakeling. In the unorthodox layout of this book, a full three inches of whitespace lie atop of most pages between the header and the start of the text.   Roughly 1/3 of the every page is unused.  What a strange and interesting design choice, I thought at the time. Now, I cherish its uniqueness of the design among a sea of Times New Roman, header-to-footer volumes.

There are many others with unique looks as well. Rather than list my favorites – how about a game…With just a few inches around the page number – how many of these authors/volumes/publishers can you recognize?  Scroll down for a list of titles if you need a hint.  Answers at bottom.  Enjoy!

The Samples

How many can you name?

How many can you name?

Books & Authors

  1. Booth, John. Creative World of Conjuring. Los Alamitos : Ridgeway Press. 1990. 264 pp. Cover | Full Title
  2. Carney, John. The Book of Secrets: Lessons for Progressive Conjuring. NP : CarneyMagic. First edition. 2002. 367 pp. Limited, signed edition of 100 copies.  Cover | Full Title
  3. Dawes, Edwin A. The Great Lyle. Pasadena : Mike Caveney’s Magic Words. 2005. 298 pp. Limited edition of 1,000. Cover | Full Title
  4. Erdnase, S. W. The Expert at the Card Table. Chicago : The Charles T. Powner Co. 1902, 1975. 205 pp. Cover | Full Title
  5. Goldston, Will. Will Goldston’s Exclusive Magical Secrets. London : The Magician, Ltd. [1912]. Numbered edition, with locking hasp. Cover | Full Title
  6. Karr, Todd, ed. The Silence of Chung Ling Soo. Seattle : The Miracle Factory. 2001. First edition. 488 pp. Cover | Full Title
  7. Rice, Harold R. The Encyclopedia of Silk Magic: Vol. 1. Boston : ESM Publishers. 1948, 1986. Fourth Printing. 520 pp. Cover | Full Title
  8. Steinmeyer, Jim. Technique & Understanding: New approaches for stage illusionists. Burbank : Hahne. 2009. 304 pp. Cover | Full Title
  9. Tarbell, Harlan. The Tarbell Course in Magic. Vol. V. New Jersey : D. Robbins & Co., Inc. 1927, 2005. Eighth Printing. 417 pp. Cover | Full Title
  10. Wonder, Tommy and Minch, Stephen. The Books of Wonder: Volume I. NP : Hermetic Press, Inc. 1996. 327 pp. Cover | Full Title

Answers

A – 10. The single color blue dingbats surrounding page numbers were the give away for this influential book.

B – 3. A tough one, for sure.  Though consistently quality in subsance, the thing most inconsistent in Mike Caveney’s Magic Words publications has been their style. The fonts and layout have changed from  book to book in the “Magical Pro-File” series, but never quite settled. It has improved considerably over time, but reached it’s pinnacle – in my mind at least – here with Lyle and Dawes’ excellent history.

C – 1. The Booth books. Their constant, nonsensical use of “10-point Palatino Bold” in the body text, as proudly proclaimed in the Colophon (itself, a rarity in magic texts).  What to use for the headers when the text is all bolded already?  Well, Garamond bold, to be sure! They design was apparently dictated by John Booth himself.

D – 4. Nothing special in the layout here. Typical of any turn-of-the-century text.  However, as arguably the most studied text in magic, I thought it would be interesting to see how recognizable it was in excerpt.

E – 2. A tough one here – the oval photograph cut-off at bottom might have been the only clue. I’ve never felt this John Carney masterpiece got the distribution or reception it deserved.  The number of artistic choices made in this book is staggering – from delicate font, the chapter heads, the processing of the photos to near-illustrations and their placement in-line. The book approaches perfection in teaching – and a book that can be returned to again and again as the student progresses.

F – 6. Unlike the Caveney books, Todd Karr has had the same template design for his books since the beginning of The Miracle Factory books. That includes the design of his e-books and even book tests. The design is simple, subtle, and places the focus on the contents – which generally need little assistance in shining.

G – 9. No bastion of layout here, but with eight volumes forming the core of most magicians’ education, hopefully the Tarbell course was somewhat recognizable here.

H – 8. A specific book and, with a high price tag, probably not one in wide distribution (unfortunately for Jim, but fortunately for the purchasers…) I’ll bet  all those who owned it, though, instantly recognized its design. The ink of the subsequent page’s diamond logo seeps through the page forming a subtle, magical afterimage of the right-hand page numbers – a perfectly suited complement to Jim’s early theme of “reminding and deceiving.”

I – 7. Francis B. Martineau’s hand-lettered 3-volume masterpiece (not be sullied by that computerized fourth volume typographical monstrosity…) should be instantly recognizable.  A genius testament to is dedication, unlikely to be equalled again in this lifetime.

J – 5. The key here was the diagram. Often of a barely-thought-through explanation of another performer’s work; one that passes muster for the minute or two you are reading, but fails miserably in practice. I am writing, of course, to the works of Will Goldston.

Review: Monday Night Magic

Monday
Night Magic
Jan 14, 2013 @ The Players Theatre,
New York City Created by Michael Chaut; Produced by Frank Brents,
Michael Chaut, Todd Robbins, Peter Samelson, & Jamy Ian
Swiss M.C.: Harrison Greenbaum; Performers: Ferdinando Buscema,
Chipper Lowell, and Jason Bishop

Monday Night MagicThis was my fourth visit to
Monday
Night Magic
.  I find the talent to be hit and miss,
however usually there is at least one performer worth the
trip.  The premise is generally the same each time.  A
Master of Ceremonies (usually one of the producers, and Todd
Robbins if you’re lucky…) begins with a welcome, performs a trick
of his own, then introduces the first two performers in the first
45 minute half.  There is an intermission, in which a close-up
performer entertains at the front of the stage while a second
performs at the street exit of the theater.  Back inside 15
minutes later, the M.C. performs another turn, before introducing
the final performer who gets the whole of the last half. It’s that
last performer who makes the show – if it’s not a particularly
strong performer (we’re looking at you, Jeff Moche),  no
stellar 15 minute turn early in the show can save it. The theater
is small – it seats just 200, with a single center aisle. 
That center aisle makes the load in & load out very
cumbersome.  Coupled with a single ticket booth and no ability
to print or mail tickets beforehand – and you’ve got yourself an
arrival nightmare.  As it was on this particular performance,
where a single person purchasing a ticket with credit card problems
led to a 15 minute delay, which ultimately delayed the show start
by half an hour.  That center aisle also makes the halftime
close-up performances difficult to watch.  All that said – we
are talking New York City, and the fact that the producers have
managed to find a venue every week with few breaks for 15 years,
and well – I’ll put up with the hassle for the opportunity. 
As do others; in my four visits, all but one has been a full
house.  Mostly males and presumed magic fans.  God bless
the few young guys who brought dates; the women’s distaste was
visible just behind their forced smiles. I must admit, walking in,
I hadn’t heard of any of that evening’s performers.  Strike
that, I was familiar with Chipper Lowell, but I have no
recollection from where. Harrison
Greenbaum
was out first as MC for the show. 
Wow.  Fantastic.  An Incredibly strong character. 
Hilarious.  He knows who and what he is and it works for
him.  He generally seemed to be having fun with the
audience.  He listened to the audience and was able to work in
lots of improvisation based on opportunities the in
audience responses.  And the magic was incredibly strong.
 In the second half, he performed a Price-Is-Right themed
mental epic with an incredible subtlety to avoid the final
force.  The theme justifies the prop, which I feel has always
looked out of place before.  And the old baby gag, brough
up-to-date and ending with a killer of a final prediction. 
Without the jokes these would be miracles.  With the jokes,
well – they don’t get the reaction they would otherwise because
folks are having a better time laughing than getting fried.  I
just read that he is the warm-up guy for Katie Couric.  I
suggest you see him now while you can – because as soon as he gets
big, I fear he’ll drop the magic. The first performer was Ferdinando Buscema.
An italian with a thick, but understandable accent.  He
performed gift magic or “experience magic” as he terms it.  It
began with a two simple hat tears for two children in the audience
(yes, there were surprisingly a few in the audience for the Monday
8:00 PM start). I believe there was a second trick in the middle,
which I can no longer remember. He ended with a thought-of movie
prediction. And ended, by handing the spectator a gift – which he
claimed might contain the thought-of-DVD, for her to open when she
got home.  A wonderful, and touching moment – which was ruined
seconds later when the spectator opened it at her seat – stopping
the show while she did so while every head in the audience strained
to see if it was, in fact correct.  Nevertheless, a great,
calm start with which to begin a solid show. Chipper
Lowell
came next.  95% comedy / 5% magic.  It
was quite literally one laugh or gag after another. One card
selection, the revelation of which was a kicker at the conclusion
of a cigar box balancing routine.  Lots of one-liners, but
many gut-wrenchingly funny.  You had to stay on your toes to
keep up, and your sides hurt by the end. Intermission. 
Despite some strong magic from Harrison & Ferdinando, I
overhead one “ringleader” in front of me complain that so far he
hadn’t seen any magic yet at Monday Night Magic.  I skipped
the close-up this time visit – it was just too hard to maneuver
into a decent viewing spot. Start of the second half began with
another fabulous (and extended) Harrison Greenbaum turn. 
Honestly – check him out. Finally Jason Bishop
brought illusions to the second half.  Was it possible to
bring Illusions to this stage?  The quite young Jason Bishop
and assistant Kim Hess would show us that it indeed was.  He
began with a talking opener to Origami.  He segued Jason Bishopwell from the talking to
the “prop-spinning” which I feel is always difficult to do. 
Indeed, many illusionists simply “queue the music” and suddenly
turn silent, which appears odd to me. It worked in the small
theater, where you could literally hear every metal flap and sword
as he worked through the routine.  Indeed, in these close
quarters Origami seemed a new beast, though equally as deceptive.
 A minor complaint – I would have liked to have seen the
tabletop a little less “bumpy” in places, if you catch my drift.
Second illusion was Metamorphosis.  He played the “examined”
and surrounded angle in this routine. He had some borderline jokes
 with the audience volunteers, but all-in-all, it was good.
His last illusion was his Steinmeyer exclusive (yes, you read that
right) “Through a Jail Window.”  It’s a bit of an odd
illusion, but I must admit that I was fooled. You can see a shot of
Jason and the prop on YouTube here.
Four examined metal rods block the frame of “jail window” in an
unusual alternating front-back way, which requires some extended
explanations.  Bringing up a child to try stick his head thru
the bars was a great idea on Jason’s part.  The relaxed, calm
manner he spoke to him was heartening. Making fun of another kid
(whom the audience was introduced to earlier by Ferdinando) was
not.  The young boy wore a cape because he loved magic, and to
get made fun of for it – well, Jason just about lost the entire
audience right then and there.  A good recovery after that
poor decision, however. (He was right about one thing, however -
what were his parent’s thinking keeping him out so late?  We
were all thinking it, too). He ended with a card and fan
manipulation routine.  His card spinning at the conclusion got
a great reaction as well.  He clearly takes pride in this
routine. It’s a bold choice to end an illusion show with something
much smaller – but it works.  All in all – I thought he was
quite good.  Some tempo changes throughout might have made it
great.  Too much of the calm, deprecating (to himself and
others) humor and explanations throughout for my taste. 
Nevertheless, all his routines show originality.  It’s
refreshing for once to see an illusionist actually be “cool”, in
stead of just trying to look “cool,” as so many unfortunately do.
Four out of four above-average performers – that’s a real win for
me at MNM.  Harrison was the clear standout for me, with
Chipper in a close second.