Monthly Archives: June 2013

What do Aladdin and I have in common?

One of the coolest things in magic history is the magic lantern. A device which is essentially a medieval version of a modern slide projector. Although the history is a bit difficult to pin down, the magic lantern is generally thought to have been invented in the late 1650’s by Christiaan Huygens. However there is evidence that a similar device existed in the early 15th Century created by Giovanni Fontana.

Giovanni’s device projected an image of a demon and in fact this seems to have set the trend in how the devices were used for at least a couple of centuries as they were taken up by magicians and conjurers to project images of ghosts, devils, demons, animate inanimate objects or convince people that their loved ones could be spoken to from beyond the grave or even brought back to life.

By the 18th century they devices were being used in seances and eventually a Belgian inventor named Etienne-Gaspard Robert eventually created a theatrical show called “Phantasmagoria” using the devices to create a whole variety of images for entertainment.

As you might well imagine this is a real amazing kind of thing. A really cool bit of history for magic, theater and the movies.

So imagine how utterly floored, completely dumbfounded and increadibly stunned I am to now have in my possesion an actual antique Magic Lantern, complete with intact glass slides for the device. I am floored.

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks. My apprentice happened to find one at an estate sale yesterday and gave me an early birthday present.  I am so moved words can not describe it.

It needs a little TLC but it is already actually functional. I need to sort through the glass slides and see what is there. Some are numbered so there may actually be a set telling a story. If so, I’ll need to find the story.  When I’m ready I think I will try and add this to my Carnival.

But I have a real Magic Lantern.  Just like Aladdin.

To give you an idea of the kinds of things that were accomplished with Magic Lanterns take a look at this video.  The lantern I have isn’t as sophisticated as the one used to create these images, but the tech is very similar.

Remember There Are Female Magicians Too

When we think about magicians in general we tend to automatically think of men. Magic has been a boys club for a very long time indeed.

But the truth is that there is a great deal of ancient history supporting the woman as magician/shaman/priestess and so on. This should not come as any particular surprise to anyone who has spent even a little bit of time with ancient history. It’s very much a “well, of course” kind of moment.

So why then are there not so many female magicians out there now? Well, I won’t argue that the field is male dominated, but there are in fact a great many more female magicians out there than most people think. Even a cursory search turns up quite a few.

But even I, a magician with a female apprentice, have to be reminded from time to time that there are plenty out there and they should be appreciated because they bring a very different kind of energy and style to the art of magic.

As an example I offer up this video of a very talented performer named Alana. I was pointed to her by Jeff McBride, and as he so rightly points out, you can see why she is winning so many competitions.

Enjoy!

Phoenix Born in Fires of A&S

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Murphy and I have never gotten along all that well.  I have learned over the years that if I plan something the way most people do then it will likely fail.  But if I plan with enough contingencies and backup plans in place then I can usually get something close to what I wanted.

Murphy hit hard this time.  Two people completely out.  A third suffering from the severe and completely unexpected heatwave.  A backup person also falling out from the heat.  It was, indeed, enough to make me seriously consider dropping the whole thing.

But…..

But the show must go on.

And it did.  Several adjustments, stepped up efforts from those who remained, an audience that was eager to be entertained and a rally from one of my heatwave sufferers and we had a Carnival.

IMG_0098The puppet show went first, an adjustment to the flow of things based on the fact that we rescheduled for a cooler part of the day and took into account that one of the puppeteers was young enough to be needing to go to bed at a reasonable hour.  It was amazingly good.  The puppet theater itself was beautiful.  The puppets were amazingly well designed and the story was fun and funny.  Our young puppeteer stole the show in my opinion.

Then I went on.  I stretched my act a bit to add more overall time in order to make up for the lost act.  This was not a problem in the least.

I admit, I was pretty nervous.  I didn’t need to be.  I got on stage and hit it from the word go.

I started with a different piece than I usually do, a poetic routine where I produce a rainbow streamer at the end, but I decided to go with it because it helped me reestablish a control over the ‘theater’ and put everyone back into the proper head space after the brief transition from one act to the next.  I followed up with a couple of my standards and ended with my two ring Linking Rings routine and the Siberian Chain Escape.

Between the two acts we managed to fill about half an hour which is what I would have expected anyway.  With three acts we would have been somewhere in the thirty to forty minute range.

IMG_0143After the acts were done my apprentice set up as the fortune teller and remained busy and running for the next couple of hours.  Clearly we’ll need more than one fortune teller for the future.   She did a fabulous job as I knew she would.  This is her thing of course so she gave it her all and truly amazed many people.

We also set up the fire pit, despite the heat, so that people could make s’mores which was part of what we had intended.

All in all it was an amazingly good showing despite the best efforts of Murphy.  At first I was extremely put out, but in hindsight I have to say that realizing that we successfully overcame such difficulties and still put on a show to be proud of is deeply satisfying.

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There will be more to come.  After the show was over I was asked by two different people to come and perform at their events.  I’m looking at a third date besides those and we know we’re going to be a part of the Market Faire event being done next year.

The Phoenix was born in a fiery hot Kingdom A&S.  The future will bring even more fun with it!

The Impending Rise of The Phoenix

phoenix_014Yes, yes, I know.  I haven’t posted in a while.  Again.

I have been busy.  I just got back from a weekend in Caid.  Every weekend has been booked up with one thing or another for a long time and I’ve been pushing towards the final goal of getting the Carnival up and running.

This is it.  It’s time.  This coming weekend is Kingdom A&S and we’ll be putting on the first show.  Gods what a lot of work this has been.

As with anything the grand and glorious plans one has up front have to be altered along the way to accommodate what we can do.  People are all volunteering their time and their efforts.  You have to be grateful for that.

So for this first outing I was hoping to have a new sunshade.  That didn’t happen.  I had started putting together a Kickstarter Campaign but after being distracted by something else when I came back to it I realized I wouldn’t get it done and back before the deadline of when I’d need to order the new sunshade and have it in hand for the event.

Nevertheless there will be a new sunshade eventually.  Just not for this event.

I was also hoping to have a couple of carnival games ready to go for the first outing but that didn’t happen either.  This to is okay, I was trying to schedule time with my game builder to help and I just never got organized enough to do it.

I’m a pretty busy guy and didn’t have as much bandwidth and just plain old steam to add the extra time into my schedule.  Work had been a particular problematic blocker, so that pretty well took the wind out of my sails.

But we will have some great stuff!  Absolutely.

We’ll have three acts (The Dancing Bear cancelled), a bardic circle and a fortune teller.

I will be performing a small magic show.  There will be a story performed by one of our wonderful storytellers and there will be a puppet show.  Of course some fun is being had with the program.

Santiago would like you to know that all the magic you are about to see has been achieved using camera tricks and video effects.  What you are seeing live is nothing like what you see on the screen.  He has achieved this by years of study into the history of magic and then he messed with it because really, who was going to stop him?

Yes, magic of this type is historical.  Yes, Santiago achieved his Laurel for the study and practice of this type of magic.  Yes, Santiago has real powers too, he just doesn’t like to use them.

You’ll have to come to the show to get the rest.

So here we are.  The first performance of The Carnival of The Phoenix.  Not a bad little showing for our first time out.
Afterwards, we’ll debrief, discuss what worked, what didn’t and decide where to go next.  I’m considering the idea of offering up a performance of some kind for The Baroness’ Masked Ball in November.

Onward, ever onward.

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