Thursday, September 30, 2010

Project 365 (271/365): The Linking Ring

.:271/365: The Linking Ring:.

The Linking Ring is a monthly publication under the International Brotherhood of Magicians published since 1923 onwards. Members of the IBM are entitled to receive monthly copies of this magazine, which serves a similar function to Genii Magazine, except that it is focused mostly on IBM members.

There are countless influential individuals who have graced the cover and had very landmark articles published about them in this magazine. If memory serves me right, one of my first encounters with Paul Potassy and Glen Faulkenstein was through this magazine.

And with the coming month, I will focus on “Recommended Viewing” as a handy follow-up.ppen today, and I'm stoked about it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Requisite September 29 Roundup...

... will come after the day is over, of course.

There's still so many things that I expect to happen today, and I'm stoked about it!

Project 365 (270/365): The Genii Magazine Online

.:270/365: The Genii Magazine Online:.

I know it’s my birthday, but I’m not coming up with anything extra special for today’s Project 365 – at least, not something special to me.

Genii magazine is quite special on its own, though. As the longest-running independent magazine about magic, the magazine is very steeped in prestige and history, and in being so, has become one of the most prestigious publications that seek to promote the art form. Founded in 1936 by William Larsen, Sr., the magazine was purchased by Richard Kaufman in 1998, and this publication has featured the likes of Houdini, Dai Vernon, Bill Malone, and Wayne Houchin on the cover of its esteemed magazine.

With promotions, articles, even effects that could be immensely useful to magicians at large, this magazine has everything one needs and then some. It’s nothing short of an essential resource for the bibliophile who wants to know what’s going on in the world of magic, and it’s great to know that an online version is available.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Project 365 (269/365): Jim Sisti

.:269/365: Jim Sisti’s Blog:.

If you’ve ever seen a Richard Osterlind video, you might recognize him as the guy who sits down and discusses stuff with Richard when he’s doing his explanations. However, Jim Sisti is not just a sounding board for instructional videos, but a very skilled and renowned performer in his own right.

Catch his blog and get some insights into one of the most revered names in the industry of all time: a man who’s done it all, but can do just as well behind the scenes as he does in the thick of it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

On Tolerance And Standup Comedy


As I was watching this video, I felt pretty happy to read about how a Muslim man wants to uplift the image of his own religion not merely for the sake of people who do not share in his faith, but to actually for his own brothers in his faith. I like that he’s doing it without proselytizing or preaching, but simply by demonstrating heroism that knows no racial or religious boundaries.

It’s so easy to get mired in stereotyping people just because of what they believe in, and I was very glad to see someone who knew that it was not the right image to project to the world and to themselves at large. Any religion need not be inherently violent, passages in their holy books be damned. And it’s not like Christianity, what with the Crusades, the Inquisition, and a host of other atrocities, is completely blood-free, either, so you see, religions are all in the same boat here.

As a pluralist, I’ve found it difficult to explain to fundamentalists why I am so accepting of other points of view, and why I am tolerant of these things, even if they appear to run contrary to my own belief system. That my tolerance extends all the way to issues of race and sexuality can bewilder a lot of rather close-minded people in my life as well.

But see, it’s not about being a morally superior person, but about opening up my world to more people based on who they are and what they do, not who they pray to and what they do in the bedroom.

It’s easy to be intolerant of others, because most people fail to ever really put themselves in the shoes of the Other. Ultimately, though, this point of view has saved me a lot of headaches – although it does stress me out every now and then, particularly when you read the comments in the video I linked to right there.

Here’s a man who’s trying to uplift the Muslim image, and commenters have nothing better to do than to insist that Muslims are vile, evil people. Way to go, guys! Way to demonstrate how “forgiving” and how “understanding” your “God” is.

Sometimes, I find myself holding much more in common with atheists than self-righteous, iniquitous men of “faith”. And mayhap that is just as well: I would rather be considered a blank slate than one riddled with intolerance and narrow-mindedness.

.:Go For The Gold!:.

Joined the Cartel yet again last Friday in Votre bar for their second fundraiser for the Hong Kong Comedy Festival, where GB, Raffy, Eri, and Noel will be going in order to represent our country in a comedy competition for the ages.

It was quite an unusual experience to see none other than Tim Tayag open the show, so I knew that going in, I had a tough act to follow, as I was second in the lineup. Nonetheless, I carried myself well that night, and did amuse people with my patented performance of the Shanghai Shackles. From there on, the who’s who of the Comedy Cartel hit the stage, and it was, overall, a great show.

After the show, it was crazy, because with the disdain some comics had for the tougher-than-usual audience, we just holed up in our corner of the bar and had our own jam session whilst the musician outside had his with the other patrons. It was pretty funny, because half the time, the song playing inside, unbeknownst to us, was also the song playing outside.

.:Bringing It All Together:.

Comedy and tolerance are two topics that tend to not play well with each other. More often than not, we have encountered comedians who have crossed the lines of decency and sensibilities: comedians who are woefully unaware that even an open-minded audience has its limits, and what may sound funny to other people is a grave insult to the very audience they are performing for.

In cases like these, I have learned to more and more err on the side of caution, but I cannot speak for others, as I am certainly following my own sensibilities and my own body of experience as a performer. If I feel for one minute that I might get into trouble for what I’m about to do, at the risk of taking away the teeth from my performance, I’d rather do it. My job is to entertain: not to proselytize, much less to aggravate. Perhaps it’s because I have confidence that to a large extent, I can entertain, but ultimately, a non-performance of that function, while terrible, would be immensely less problematic than doing the exact opposite of entertaining someone – offending them. I’d rather stay at zero balance than at the negative, but that’s just me.

Oh, don’t mind me. I just felt compelled to bring together two completely unrelated topics, like I’m wont to do.

Project 365 (268/365): Escamotourettes

.:268/365: Escamotourettes:.

Escamotourettes is an amazing magic and mentalism blog that I plucked out from Andster’s link list, and I’m glad I did, as he seems to be covering a lot of ground in the topics he covers. From a good blog roll worth taking note of on his sidebar to even discussions about how the ministrel movement that was both demeaning and empowering to black performers back in the day is also somewhat reflected by magicians who perform mentalism without being capable of establishing the distinction.

And on that note, I’m led to do a bit of introspection into how I carry myself and perform, because I often tend to mix and match the two for my own purposes, although I prefer the veneer of combining mentalism with escapology, rather than out and out razzle-dazzle magic.

I suppose that it’s a valid criticism that when a magician performs mentalism inadequately, it is not necessarily them encroaching on the mentalist’s territory, but rather, as the blogger succinctly mentions, it becomes a caricaturization, or outright bastardization of mentalism that becomes the issue.

Thanks to the popularity of mentalists in The Story Circle, you can see a lot of young magicians who, in their attempt to emulate their idols Anthony Co or Erik Mana or David Elefant or Rannie Raymundo or even Nomer Lasala, quickly put down the playing cards and learn to bend a couple of forks and classify themselves as mentalists already.

Folks, it doesn’t work that way.

Mentalism isn’t just about reading minds, or bending metal, or hypnotizing people: it’s doing it, and having the gravitas and the credibility of doing it. If you look like just another trickster who’s trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes rather than a genuine mystifier, then you just cheapen the whole conceit of mentalism by turning it into puzzles and mindgames when it should be something more uplifting, if not, unsettling.

I’d talk about this more, but maybe I should save this for a full-on essay eventually in December. All I know is that in my four brief years as a (semi) professional performer, I’ve done what I can to uphold the integrity of the art form, and in having this integrity, I have managed to distill exactly what it is that makes a mentalist tick, as opposed to a magician with little regard for the nuances of mentalism performing some mental magic.

There are so many subtleties that the uninitiated fail to pick up on, and personally, I’m just grateful I saw the distinction earlier on than most. I in no way assume this makes me perfect or a cut above the rest, but this self-awareness does help me know where I stand as a performer, rather than just flit from one role model to the next.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project 365 Smorgasbord (267-269): Twitter Follow Friday Part 3

.:267/365: David Copperfield On Twitter:.

David Copperfield is quite popular on Twitter, especially since he recently celebrated his birthday. Of course, with very few Tweets to his name, he’s rather low-key compared to the other magicians who are also doing Twitter, but hey, no big deal, right?

The man is still the best at what he does, and at some point, he’s bound to say something memorable on Twitter, and I wanna be there for when he does.

.:268/365: Cyril Takayama On Twitter:.

Cyril Takayama is also on Twitter, and considering how he’s going around Asia a lot lately, I can’t wait for him to announce that he’s going to be back in the Philippines sometime soon.

Also, my best friend, Abby, might have the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Takayama for her job soon, and I asked her to mention to the man that I featured him on my humble blog, if ever. Should be interesting. Heh.

.:269/365: Lee Asher On Twitter:.

One of the most revered minds in magic, Lee Asher is another magician you really should be following, especially since he’s one of the people behind Theory 11, which means it’s a good idea to watch out for his stuff, to say the least.

Yes, I’m really just stretching this month until I get to October. It’s my birthday month, so sue me, I wanna take it easy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Goodbye, But Not The End

.:Goodbye, But Not The End...:.

Here comes another single from the man, the legend, Rick Astley. Well, what can I say, right? He performed this just last month, yet with still no word about a full-length album coming out, it’s just awesome to know that he’s still churning out new music and keeping the fans happy

Now, while most people recognize Rick Astley for his classics, such as “Never Gonna Give You Up,” has it ever occurred to anyone that he had an album entitled “Portrait” and it featured him covering some of the greatest hits known to man? From “Vincent” by Don McLean to “Make It Easy On Yourself” by Jerry Butler. 2005 was an awesome year for the man, and as if the universe conspired to make things even cooler, I found out that he has a Twitter account.

Yes, I’m following him now. What else did you expect me to do, right?

And, by the way, the lyrics.

Goodbye, But Not The End
by Rick Astley

We're hanging here by just our fingertips
Trying to stop the words from falling from our lips

But I've got a feeling
That I'll see you soon again
Yeah I've got feeling
Its goodbye but not the end
Its not the end

So hold on just a little longer
You fall down, get back up but stronger
I will wait for you

Now I'm standing here
Just staring at my feet
'Cause one look in your eyes
And I'm never gonna leave

But I've got a feeling
That I'll see you soon again
Yeah I've got feeling
Its goodbye but not the end
Its not the end

So hold on just a little longer
You fall down, get back up but stronger
I will wait for you

Don't give up
Yeah we'll be together
'Cause goodbye is not bye forever
I will wait for you, for you

Now the world turns 'round
Its spinning, its spinning
Sun goes up, goes down
In this second that we're in
Gotta hold on tight, hold on tight now
Its goodbye but not the end

So hold on just a little longer
You fall down, get back up but stronger
I will wait for you
Don't give up
Yeah we'll be together
'Cause goodbye is not bye forever
I will wait for you, for you

And the world turns but its not the end
Yeah the world turns but its not the end
Yeah the world turns but its not the end
Yeah the world turns but its not the end

.:Soooo Not Looking Forward To Next Week...:.

I seriously, seriously don’t want to remember that I’ve been existing for 27 years too long than I should’ve by next week. Feh.

Went to the station on Tuesday, and hung out with the usual gang of idiots from the Disenchanted Kingdom. KDL was there, but he had to leave immediately, so after finding out about some very delectable items from Marf on the air, hearing Lu Skywalker sing “Alone” in Filipino, and a host of other hilarious antics, I must say, it was a great show.

I was even going to watch the RT premiere that night, but May showed up late, so we watched The Expendables instead. Felt a bit sad when she told me she was going to leave the country soon, though. I guess that’s the end of the line for Sunflower Girl...

So yeah, not looking forward to next week. Everything seems to just be crunching along, and I don’t even know what the hell I’m doing here anymore.

Project 365 (266/365): Why Am I Stuck In Magician Hell?

.:266/365: Why Am I Stuck In Magician Hell?:.

I just started reading this blog earlier this week, and I’m already a huge fan. Here’s a guy who really rants about the hazards of being a magician, and instead of coming across as some whiny cynic, he actually ends up offering a lot of very good advice for other fellow magicians, who don’t really see the bigger picture of the stuff they do.

With a funny and quirky writing style all its own, this blog is a must-read for magicians who are way too used to being led by the hand and sugar-coated all the way. Hard to go wrong with gems of wisdom explaining why no magic act can ever be expected to win America’s Got Talent, simply because AGT and similar shows are just glorified song and dance contests, and variety acts are there only to add spice, but never to ultimately steal the show.

Yes, that includes Terry Fator. Even if he is a ventriloquist, you have to realize that he was, first and foremost, a novelty musical act.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010



Really, wake me up when September ends.

Each passing day has been me just going through the motions. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone, really.

Ever played this game? Sometimes, I look at my life in the same way. Just an endless routine with the only logical outcome after everything has been said and done being one’s inevitable demise. It’s a very sobering thought, really, that this daily routine isn’t becoming the thing of wonder we try to look at with wide eyes, but a dreary, never-ending cycle of just existing.

With each passing year, I look forward to 29 September less and less. When I think about other people like Thons, and the courage it must have taken for them to do what they have done, I can’t help but think if I’m really the coward by choosing to go on and on in the one and the same, and not breaking free from the cycle, much like the guy in the game did.

This has been a very dreary year. A year where my heart, my friendships, and even my dreams have taken a beating. I don’t know how much more I can take, but I’m still walking wounded, and I don’t know where all of this is headed after everything has been said and done.

So yeah. Wake me up when September ends. In the meantime, every single dream that I dream is the exact same dream as the day before – except I can no longer tell if I’m awake or asleep. All I know is that everything feels wrong, and everything feels like it’s going awry.

But whatever. Ignore the raving idiot writing in his own corner of cyberspace. There is no cry for help here, because if I do find it in me to do what has to be done, I wouldn’t bother announcing or threatening it anymore.

I just will.

Project 365 (265/365): iTricks

.:265/365: iTricks:.

One of the most active hotspots for what’s up with magic in general, iTricks is the blog that serves as the hub for the goings-on in the magic community. Whether it be the latest podcast from a notable name, or the latest DVD releases from the luminaries in the industry, iTricks is on top of it all, an has very fresh and up to date information at your beck and call.

What I especially like about iTricks is that most of the material they feature on the site are definitely useful for parlor magicians and of course, street magicians. Due to the range of talents they feature on the blog, there’s something for everyone here – except stage magicians, presumably.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010



So... apparently, the poster in my desk was defaced by someone in their drunken stupor. Nobody even remembers who it could’ve been.

I am not amused, especially considering how those posters weren’t cheap at all.

And no, I’m not taking this bull sitting down. The vandal could GDIAF for all I care.

Project 365 (264/365): Andrew Mayne's Blog

.:264/365: Andrew Mayne’s Blog:.

Andrew Mayne’s blog has got to be one of the most direct and useful blogs out there when it comes to practical, real-world advice for fellow magicians. While most other magic blogs will sugarcoat their words when they try to give useful advice, Andrew Mayne decides to go for the jugular and just outright emphasize why some magicians work and some magicians don’t in this dog-eat-dog world of entertainment.

Whether it be his thoughts on magicians who try to get on TV, thinking that exposure to television will be their ticket to instant stardom, how Twitter should be used by magicians, or various other hot-button topics for today’s magicians, Mayne has a very straightforward way of laying everything out. He doesn’t mince any words, and he clearly knows what he’s talking about.

If there’s one particular magician you should be listening to when he offers advice, it’s Andrew Mayne. He understands what it takes to break into the mainstream, as most magicians tend to be stuck with what made them successful only to a certain level. It takes a fresh pair of eyes to look at how to jump the gap to the next level, and Mayne really has a keen view for it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It Ain't Steve, But Still...

.:Her First Name Isn’t Steve:.

Star of the night! Picture ganked from Sexy Nomad.

A new friend and acquaintance, Carelle, recently celebrated her birthday, and after a jam session with Rannie Raymundo that fine Saturday, I headed on out to Muruve to celebrate with her, the child star extraordinaire RR Herrera (Who happens to be her boyfriend.), and her other friends, including Adam Mordo and Sexy Nomad.

I got to the venue, and found a few familiar faces, but not ten minutes in, I was already slated to do a bit of a performance for the birthday celebrant. Thankfully, they didn’t ask me to sing or anything to that effect because that would’ve just ruined the night right then and there. Heh.

So I went ahead and did some of my mentalism routines, as I used temporary paralysis on an old friend of mine, Rezza, and it worked like a charm.

Freeze! Photo ganked yet again from Sexy Nomad.

While of course, I couldn’t finish my performance without doing some metal bending, it was overall an enjoyable performance, before we were treated to even more singing from the other performers who also happened to be there. I was starstruck when I saw Cacai Velasquez, actually. I find her prettier than her elder sister. Much prettier.

While I settled back with Sexy Nomad and Adam Mordo, we conversed about a wide range of things, including me doing a reading for Sexy Nomad, who found my reading incredibly accurate, before Mordo returned the favour and read me like an open book. It was pretty interesting, really, and they sorta made me break the whole straight edge bit yet again by getting me to try out the awesome-tasting calamansi-flavored beers after the open bar already closed down. I was ever so amused by the whole thing, really. Beer never tasted this good to me.

Happy birthday, Carelle! I know this entry isn’t quite the blow-by-blow account I wanted it to be, but that’s what I get for getting to the party pretty late. Despite that, though, everyone clearly had a great time, and there’s no question that Carelle is looking to have an awesome year ahead of her, as her 21st birthday was made of pure, unadulterated win.

Project 365 (263/365): The Last Greatest Magician In The World

.:263/365: The Last Greatest Magician In The World:.

Jim Steinmeyer’s books have always been highly anticipated and stuff of legend. This book, coming out early next year, will focus on Howard Thurston, and although this is mainly a biographical book, it appears Harry Houdini will also have a significant part in this book, perhaps highlighting the not-hostile but all-prevalent rivalry between two of the best magicians of all time.

Now, if anyone has read Steinmeyer’s “Hiding The Elephant,” they would know that Jim writes excellently, and is every bit as passionate about magic as he is a great writer. With that in mind, I eagerly anticipate the release of this book, because as detailed as all the biographies and documentaries about Houdini happen to be, Howard Thurston doesn’t get nearly enough press, and it’s about time people recognized him more.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grab-Bag For The Weekend...

.:Bon Voyage!:.

One of the most awesome people I know, Daphne, is going on a trip to the US for about a month. I’m gonna miss her, but I hope she has a great vacation there!

.:Bon Chance!:.

Awwww, yeah!

GB Labrador, comedian extaordinaire, will be having his second fundraiser show in Votre Bar on 24 September. You might want to catch it, as they’re pulling out all the stops for this man’s trip to the Hong Kong Comedy Festival. Going as well are Raffy Taruc, Noel Gascon, and Eri Neeman.

Last night though, I was there, and you missed a lot if you didn’t go.

Now with more Luke Mejares action!

It was awesome that night, really. I opened after the musicians by doing the Shackles and some hypnosis, and with the crowd receptive for comedy, the house was packed with a ton of people just raring to be entertained.

Overall, this was one of the best nights courtesy of Votre, and I was glad to be a part of it. I’m gonna try to be there again next week as well, though...

Lots and lots of exciting stuff happening in the comedy world. Glad to be there in the thick of it.

.:Distilled Fellowship:.

Last Tuesday, I was deeply honoured to have been invited by The Boss, Rannie Raymundo, to go to The Tavern and meet “the old guard of Philippine magic.” Needless to say, I was stoked and very excited, as I had no idea what to expect that night.

So I got there a bit earlier than most other people, albeit the first person I ran into while walking into The Tavern was none other than Lou Hilario himself. Immediately, I realized that I was going to be surrounded by magic royalty, and the night certainly didn’t disappoint.

A few of the many highlights of the night included the one and only Erik Ma, who felt like a truncated Erik Mana, a mini magic competition for a cool set of cups and balls, and a host of amazing stories from The Boss, the Maestro, Anthony Co, Jason, Lou Hilario, Hermann, the Chubster, and a host of other amazing people. From mentalism to coins to cards, everyone had something to share, and it was all for the sake of fellowship.

That night was truly distilled magic fellowship at its best. No politics. No BS. No egos flying in each other’s faces. Just a bunch of people getting together to express their appreciation for the art form that has brought them all together. It doesn’t hurt that there was excellent food to go around, either, and I’m still overloaded from all the new stuff I learned that night. I’ve tried only a few of them last Friday night, and it has been unequivocally amazing for me.

.:Teh Fish And Teh Meat:.


With much thanks to Carlo Ople, Fish and Co genuinely surprised us a few days ago with some new meat items from their menu.

While I may have a shortage of words to describe the food, I have to say that I liked the lamb chops a whole lot. Considering how Fish and Co’s fish won’t be remotely affected by these new items on the menu, it’s good to know that the selection has only gotten even better from this point on. No question about it: I wouldn’t hesitate to go to Fish and Co if I ever wanted some good comfort food, because the stuff they have, from their fish and chips to their new meat items including lamb chops, breaded chicken with seafood, and grilled chicken with seafood, are made of win.

.:The Sweet Taste Of Victory...:.

Glad that my efforts weren’t in vain, and I am definitely playing next week in the Scars of Mirrodin prerelease. Awesome.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Back On The Soapbox

.:Errmm... Yeah:.

It makes so much sense now!

So everyone’s talking about the John Lloyd Cruz and Shaina Magdayao “debacle”, and since I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, I guess I couldn’t help but feel very indifferent to the whole thing, except for the obvious and easy punchlines that one can come up with because of the situation.

Nonetheless, it’s great to see that the issue is slowly dying a natural death. Still, considering how the media managed to keep a lid on this stupid non-issue for a whole two weeks, it does make one wonder why they couldn’t keep a lid on covering Rolando Mendoza for one frigging day.

Priorities, beeyotches. You don’t has it.

.:Great Going, Pope!:.

The Pope likens atheism to Nazism. Brilliant, your Holiness. Just bloody brilliant. You mean we’re just supposed to forget about this?

Godwin called it.

As a pluralist Catholic apologist, your Holiness, you are giving me a lot of things to apologize for. It’s bad enough that you have gone ahead and regressed on the progressive work that has been set forth by your predecessor, John Paul II, but did you have to just really emphasize exactly why everyone who doesn’t drink your Kool-Aid is nothing short of wary of the Catholic leadership?

While you shove your beliefs down people’s throats, you go and insist on accusing other people of doing precisely what you do. You promote intolerance of homosexuality, other religions, and choose to denigrate women to uphold your patriarchal system, and even condone the numerous abuses of the clergy upon children instead of actively denouncing such practices.

As a Catholic, I choose to believe in what this institution stands for, not what it has turned into: a cesspool of iniquitous, overbearing men who are exactly like the Pharisees and Scribes that they lecture against every Sunday. A congregation of believers who don’t know what they believe and nor have any idea why they’re fighting for the survival of their dying ways, when it’s their very nature that is driving their own movement down into the ground, as they refuse to accept that they are out of time and out of touch.

I could’ve sworn Christ did what he did to save people, not so we could go out of our way to condemn people all over again.

I don’t know who made this, but this sums up how I feel lately...

The Popemobile: Nothing says "I have faith in God" like 3-inch bulletproof glass. - Bill Hicks

Project 365 Smorgasbord (260-262): Twitter Follow Friday Part 2

.:260/365: Penn Jilette On Twitter:.

Penn’s Twitter is a goldmine of ideas and comedy, as he tends to talk about a wide variety of things here above and beyond magic. From his atheism to his magic to his awesomely-named daughter, Moxie Crimefighter, Penn’s Tweets tend to be quite a highlight among all the Twitter accounts I follow.

If you want to listen to the loudmouthed half of Penn and Teller, make sure to follow him on Twitter. Boy, has he got a mouthful.

.:261/365: Raymond Teller On Twitter:.

Since it’s such a rarity to hear Teller speak, it’s pretty amusing to actually see how much of a chatterbox he can be on Twitter. Check out Teller’s Twitter here. He covers a wide range of topics.

You know what I’ve always been hoping to see? Penn and Teller actually arguing about a topic because they’re not on the same page about it. Teller always seems so complicit, but I think that he and Penn would be very much at odds on a lot of things.

.:262/365: Andrew Mayne On Twitter:.

Andrew Mayne, the man behind the likes of Gutbuster and Inversion, can also be followed on Twitter. While I will probably want to talk about his blog more soon, for now, I think it’s a good idea for you to get some cool ideas from his Tweets, as he has contributed more than his fair share of amazing effects for the magic industry to use.

I’m a big fan of his approach to magic. Even if he is also a working performer, his point of view appears to be that of an outsider (Who’s in the know, but still an outsider, nonetheless.) looking in. I sort of have the same approach, so I can definitely relate to his style, to say the least.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Project 365 (259/365): The Mind and Magic Of David Berglas

.:259/365: The Mind And Magic Of David Berglas:.

If you are getting this book solely to learn the famous Berglas effect, you will be sorely disappointed. However, what you will discover when you read this amazing book is the amazing amount of material, gathered from five decades of David Berglas’s acclaimed and celebrated career.

From his blindfold act, to many different card routines he utilizes, even to basic ideas about the Berglas effect, you won’t have a shortage of stuff to go through in this book. Give it a try, because I haven’t regretted reading this one at all. You get headline predictions, magic squares, and a host of others that you never expected in a million years to just be given away in this book.

No question about it: David Berglas takes the mind on a wild journey no two legs can take you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Project 365 (258/365): The Colored Books Of Mentalism

.:258/365: The Colored Books Of Mentalism:.

Written by the ever-famous Max Maven, or as he is otherwise known, Phil Goldstein, the Colored Books Of Mentalism (I forgot which colors he used, but he used five.) is one of the most influential mentalism works for the past three decades.

Totalling 53 different, powerful mentalism effects, Max Maven’s ideas were highly sought after in his heyday as these booklets were sold separately. Many people view the physical copies of these books as true collector’s items: artifacts of a classic age in mentalism when people truly believed that mentalism was the work of the devil.

Journey into the workings of a malevolent genius, and understand precisely why Max Maven is every bit as good as people claim he is.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Project 365 (257/365): Tarbell's Course In Magic

.:257/365: Tarbell’s Course In Magic:.

A compilation of eight books, Tarbell’s course is a seminal compilation of magic effects ranging the gamut of stage illusions to mentalism to coins. There really is so much ground that is covered by these eight volumes that it’s hard to imagine a book that is a denser read than Harlan Tarbell’s masterpiece.

Even though the material is somewhat dated in that it was completed way back in 1928, there is no question that his material is still useful even in this day and age, because he gets into lessons involving not just numerous effects used back then and even today, but even lessons about blocking, humor, and other performance aids that most teachers often neglect to go into.

Many magicians cite the Tarbell course as one of their biggest influences getting into magic. It’s not so difficult to see why at all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Project 365 (256/365): House Of Mystery

.:256/365: House Of Mystery:

Well, this looks like a must-have for any magic enthusiast out there.

Edited by Raymond Teller and Todd Karr, this two-volume effort is a collection of mysteries from “Abbott’s Book of Mysteries” that has fooled the likes of Kellar, Okito, Ching Ling Foo, and so forth, as Abbott used methods utilized by spirit mediums. Yup. Methods used by charlatans who must evade being caught in the act for a living. This compilation is annotated, and even contains fifty essays from Teller about technique, psychology, and presentation. Teller even goes out of his way to reveal one of his best magic secrets.

You can’t go wrong with material this dense. Even if it’s not necessarily a book that will teach you the secrets of magic, it’s more importantly a very important look into the world of spirit mediums, and how their careers, no matter how blatantly unethical, run parallel to the magic industry. With insights into how they work and how you could take these performance ideas into your own act, it’s hard to imagine anyone who has these two books ever having a shortage of new ideas and approaches they can use for their performances.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lights Out, Kheill!

.:Turn The Lights Out!:.

Oh, yes, ladies and gentlemen. He. Is. Back.

After releasing his last but barely heard-of album in 2004, Rick Astley finally released a new single last June, and in the same month, an official video came out. As a dedicated Rick Astley fan, I must admit that I was negligent about immediately writing about it and featuring it on my blog, but negligent no more!

This song really captures the Rick Astley sound, and you can’t say a single thing about the man’s vocals. Obviously though, if there’s one gripe about it, is that there’s criminally less dancing in the video than there ought to be in a Rick Astley video.

Nonetheless, you can’t really expect the 44-year old phenom to still be dancing up a storm to this very day, especially when you realize that he was hardly doing any dancing even when he was 21 in the “Never Gonna Give You Up” video. Still, there was this awesome black dude who was doing somersaults up the walls, so maybe he could’ve hired more people to do some dancing for the song.

Up to now, there’s no news out there if he’s going to release a new album, and he seems to be having a great time in his new and unexpected career as a radio personality. If he ever does decide to have a new album, though, I think he needs to realize one thing: he needs to create a new dance craze all over again. And in the (unlikely) event he ever has a collaboration with the Wondergirls, I’m going to be all over it before you can say “monster smash hit.”

Keep on rolling, Rick Astley!

.:After An Entire Week...:.

So there we were in Nuffnang, enjoying Mystery Wednesday, watching “I Miss You Like Crazy”. While watching, we noticed a flamboyantly gay character played by Ketchup Eusebio, and Judd mentioned that he’s actually straight, merely acting convincingly enough.

Brilliant that he is, our country manager, Carlos, decided to challenge me to do the exact same thing in the office for a week. I even mentioned it on the air while I was guesting on the Disenchanted Kingdom, and the whole gang found it amusing and wished me luck.

Well, after an entire week, and after being introduced to longtime acquaintance yet brand new officemate Dani, I definitely had to keep up pretenses with much difficulty, although I’d like to think that at the end of the one-week challenge, I definitely held up my end of the bargain.

In any case, last Thursday, we had a bit of a drinking spree, and it was amusing how I saw one of my officemates get crazy drunk. Had to text her ‘till she seemed sober again, although to be fair, her spelling was still impeccable throughout, so I guess she was just fine. Crazy fun week, although yet again, my straight-edge lifestyle has been derailed. O great CM Punk, I have failed thee again.

.:Three Letters. K. E. L. Is that so hard to freaking spell?:.

Really now. I mean, the reason I picked “Kel” as an air name was that it’s so simple to spell. Three freaking letters. Aside from the fact that I always loved Kenan and Kel on Nick, it seemed like there was no way anyone could mess that up the way people would be unable to spell “Marcelle” properly since everyone expects to spell it as “Marcel”.

So imagine my surprise when I went to a restaurant to order some food, and this is the name they printed on my receipt...

Err... huh?

Did I misspeak or something? Did I sound out in a way that made them believe that there was an extra “H” to my name? Was I wearing my jejemon cap again? But that can’t be! I was wearing my suit, and I looked so respectable that day, and...

So sue me! It’s a fashionable cap!

No matter, maybe the cash register was Capampangan, which explained the extraneous “h” in the receipt, and ultimately, in Filipino pronunciation, it made no difference whether or not the “h” was in it, because we’d still pronounce it practically the same way: we don’t go out of our way to aspirate “Jhun-Jhun,” and merely pronounce it as “Jun-Jun.”

But then, the next day, I ate at the same restaurant, and guess what? They misspelled my receipt again!

Wait. How is that even possible?

I’m pretty sure that “Keil” would be pronounced like “cake,” so I don’t understand how the heck that works. Even if it were pronounced as “Kyle” or as “kill,” it would still make no sense, because I clearly said “Kel.”

Sometimes, it boggles the mind how often this happens. When people mishear “Nuffnang,” it makes all the sense in the world. But a monosyllabilic name like “Kel?” Gee, whillikers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Project 365 Smorgasbord (253-255): Follow Friday

Entering this long weekend, I decided that these smorgasbords for the month, to make them easier, would be about magicians you should be following on Twitter. Well, it’s still “recommended” reading, and I think the one-line quips you get from these people can be both amusing and useful, to say the least.

.:253/365: Andy Nyman On Twitter:.

Andy Nyman, the partner in crime for celebrated mentalist Derren Brown, is also an accomplished actor, and a veritable movie buff. You will notice in his tweets that he hardly (if at all) talks about magic or mentalism, but his insights into the entertainment industry definitely are worth a read. Given the brevity of Twitter, it’s actually a wonder how much he can pack into 140 characters, to say the least.

I’ve always liked Nyman’s style, and the contrast that he demonstrates when paired with Derren Brown. Despite the unmistakably British characteristics of Nyman’s performing style, there’s no mistaking his different approach to performances, and how his ideas can definitely shape Derren Brown’s subsequent performances in a way only Derren could possibly interpret.

.:254/365: Jay Sankey On Twitter:.

Jay Sankey may not be my favourite magician, but the man is a very generous soul, and his Tweets are filled with oodles of useful stuff for magicians, especially since he likes showing teasers of his new material, of which he never seems to have a dearth of.

As one of the most prolific minds in the magic industry, it’s hard to not pay attention to Jay Sankey, because when the man comes up with a gem, boy is it a gem worth keeping and using for the rest of your magic career. Lucky followers of the man even got free previews of his latest material, and even found out the method to the new effect before it was publicly released.

Sankey is definitely one of the foremost contributors to the world of magic in the past decade. That much can’t be denied.

.:255/365: Daniel Garcia On Twitter:.

A man with a very offbeat sense of humor and more self-aware than practically anyone else you could ever think of in the industry, Daniel Garcia’s Twitter is a lot like Sankey’s, in terms of covering a lot of ground when it comes to magic.

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong following DG’s Tweets, if you’re a magician. The guy just can’t miss with his material. He has consistently had reliable effects, and the fact that he has given every street magician hope in being able to perform a card through window effect without any secret assistants involved is nothing but sweet, sweet gravy.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

.:252/365: The Leodini Blog:.

Leodini’s blog is always an excellent read not just because it talks about magic in general, but mainly because the advice and insights his blog provides has been consistently helpful and useful.

I’ve been reading his blog for at least a couple of years, and the advice you get from his blog is unbelievable. You will never be at a loss for great ideas, cool things to do and to ponder upon. Also, despite clearly being against wanton exposure by other magicians, he doesn’t hesitate to explain the workings of a given magic trick every now and then if it allows him to make a more important point.

I’ve sung Leodini’s praises enough times for you to know that this man is really someone worth listening to. Don’t let his deceptively good looks fool you: there’s a lot going on underneath the veneer that he allows people to see, only if they look hard enough.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Project 365 (251/365): Criss Angel's Secret Revelations

.:251/365: Criss Angel’s Secret Revelations:.

Props where props are due: this book isn’t half bad at all. In fact, it’s a pretty great read, because the narrative style feels just the same way as Criss Angel, who, love him or hate him, knows how to talk circles around most anybody else.

The fact that he even gives forty effects in the second half of the book just makes things even better. That only means that the second half of the book is actually not self-glorifying dreck. Oh, okay. I guess I can’t really resist taking a snipe at my “favourite” magician...

Monday, September 06, 2010

Project 365 (250/365): Mallusionist

.:250/365: Mallusionist:.

More of a wink and a nudge to the magic community than a genuine magic blog, combines two of the most annoying things to most magicians on earth: the hype machine of Ellusionist and wanton magic exposure. In doing so, the site creates a very humorous mix of pseudo-magic and self-referential comedy.

The fact that some people are silly enough to take the material seriously is another cause for sheer hilarity on its own altogether, and I still cannot believe how many people take the site on face value. If only for the sheer hilarious nature of the site, as well as the self-awareness the parody treats itself with, I’m definitely a huge fan of Mallusionist.

Project 365 (249/365): Nate Marx

.:249/365: Nate Marx:.

Nate Marx is a magician and a mentalist hailing from General Santos. One of the few people insane enough to consider me a mentor of sorts, his passion for magic is unrivalled, and it shows in his writing, and his desire to better himself both as a performer, and as a contemporary, working with other performers along the way, even merely through online correspondence.

While it would certainly be a great honor to be onstage with Nate one of these days, I think it’s more than enough of an honor that he has regarded me as one of the luminaries of the local mentalism scene, but really, this kid has everything he needs to make it big. His new blog has excellent ideas, but if you could find his old one, the way he writes there just really impresses me. It’s a rarity in the local magic world for us to find someone this eloquent, so having someone like Nate becoming an online ambassador for Philippine magic is a definite plus in my book.

Do check his blog out, and say “hi” to him for me. Tell him I sent you. :P

Project 365 (248/365): Derren Brown's Mysterious Stranger

.:248/365: David Blaine’s Mysterious Stranger:.

Perhaps one of the most hyped books written by a magician in the last decade, “Mysterious Stranger” is quite a sendup to magic history, and overall, an engaging read. The little armchair treasure hunt included in the book was also an excellent little touch that lent to a heightened interest in David Blaine’s book as well.

Ultimately, “Mysterious Stranger” served as a very early autobiography of David Blaine, discussing his life story, all the while discussing magic history through his own viewpoint. It’s worth buying, but you have to forego the chance to win $100,000, since someone already figured out the Treasure Hunt involved in the book.

I am eagerly awaiting the day Criss Angel tries his hand at writing his own book... if he’s even capable of writing a book, let alone writing at all.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Project 365 (247/365): The Prestige (Book)

.:247/365: The Prestige (Book):.

The movie was better, but by no means does this mean that the book was a bad read.

In fact, the book, in many ways, weaves a different tale from the movies, and as such, has strengths both in its narrative and in its very structure as a published book rather than as a recorded film.

You’ve heard the story before: two magicians, Angier and Borden, and their rivalry as magicians slowly built up and escalated unto epic levels. While in the film, the two used to be friends who became bitter rivals when a botched escape act resulted in the death of Angier’s wife, the book’s rivalry started off with something far less drastic: Borden exposed Angier during one of his séances, and thus became an annoying thorn in Angier’s side.

This petty rivalry only highlighted how the smallest of transgressions, when unaddressed, can snowball into larger, unimaginable treachery. As the acts of aggression between the feuding magicians escalates progressively, they turn to more and more sinister means of upstaging each other, and the feud ends unresolved, and it becomes a mystery for their respective next of kin to unravel, as they take us on a ride into the mystery that lies beneath the murky details on the lives of both men.

The pacing of the book is decidedly slower than the film, but this results in a very good, stewing effect on the readers: what seems to be a deep-seated mystery becomes more and more horrifying as the book progresses. It likens itself to how a magic trick is often done, really: building up towards something, the whizz and the bang, then the aftermath. However, in book format, the buildup is actually dragged out to great effect, akin to the mentalist act, as opposed to the magician’s wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am approach most of the time.

As such, I do recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers. I suggest reading the book, then watching the movie, if you haven’t yet, as it would be one of the most appropriate times for you to say that indeed, the movie was better than the book, but the book itself was still one piece of work worthy of more than one reading.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Project 365 (246/365): Derren Brown's Tricks Of The Mind

.:246/365: Derren Brown’s Tricks Of The Mind:.

Less a book for professional magicians and mentalists and more a book for the general public, “Tricks of the Mind” is an engaging read from cover to cover, as Derren Brown talks about his methods (Although one would suspect shenanigans here.), his beliefs, and other interesting topics as he opens his mind to people for them to probe and analyze for as long as he feels inclined to let them do so.

When it comes to a book that really looks closely at the psychological phenomena that surrounds all of us, including hypnosis, neurolinguistic programming, and many other similarly controversial pursuits, Derren Brown’s interesting narrative style just captures the imagination and the charm that is often attributed to these things, all the while expressing a healthy dose of scepticism in the very same things that he apparently performs on a regular basis.

If you want a book from a man who is clearly conflicted by who he truly is and what he projects himself to be, “Tricks of the Mind” is an excellent read. It would be as though you were looking at a man trying to debate with himself about mentalism in a way that is entertaining, lively, and witty all the same.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Project 365 (245/365): Andster

.:245/365: Andster:.

Andster is one of those rare gems of magicians who writes in a very disarming manner about the art form. Whether it be his self-deprecating style or his massive range of experience in different aspects of magic, or just his many different attempts at taking his show on the road, Andster’s blog has always been an entertaining read, and I don’t even remember anymore how I came across his blog over three years ago, to begin with.

In any case, I do heartily recommend that you check his blog out, even if he rarely updates it nowadays. His insights into magic are not only unique, but very much the work of someone who is a big fan of magic, even if real-life obligations can get in the way of his semi-professional ways. As a former teacher, I can definitely relate with his being a professor who likes doing magic for his students every now and then. That’s cool, to say the least.

Check the blog out. It’s great, it’s light, it’s interesting, and you can’t go wrong with Andster’s writing.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Project 365 (244/365): September Is Recommended Viewing Month

.:244/365: September Is Recommended Reading Month:.

Hey, guys! Hope you enjoyed August, as it was certainly a labor of love from me to the Philippine magic industry.

Having said that, this month will be a month where I take it a bit easy, and I’ll be doing a month focusing on recommended reading for magic. I’ve already brought up a couple of books in the past, such as Carter Beats The Devil or Hiding The Elephant, but there are so many other books out there on magic that would do you very well to read.

On top of books to read about magic or mentalism, there are also some blogs or websites about magic that I personally check out and highly recommend because of how invaluable they are for magicians, or how insanely funny they can be.

So this month, I’m going to let other people’s writings dominate Project 365. Given that a lot of the people behind these great works have met great success in their respective careers, I think that isn’t a bad move at all.

Project 365 (243/365): Bing Lim-It

.:243/365: Bing Lim-It:.

I saved Mr. Bing Lim-It for last because he is the man I consider to be my mentor through the years I’ve been doing magic. He has had a very storied career in magic, and his story serves both as an inspiration and a cautionary tale in the mercurial world of magic.

A magic hobbyist since he was seven years old, Bing Lim-It was always fond of the art thanks to the inspiration of his idol, Lou Hilario, whom he saw many times on television back in the day. As he grew in magic, it took him almost two decades before he donned the tuxedo and top hat and became a professional magician, when he became a professional magician in 1987.

In 1998, he opened up a magic shop in Virra Mall, which eventually supplanted his professional magic career. The shop can currently be found in the third floor of Shoppesville, and is very popular because of his wide range of merchandise, from magic items to instructional videos to... ahem, marital aids.

Bing was practically as old school as can be: nearly every stereotype you could come up with for the traditional stage/parlor magician, he exemplified it, be his very deliberate but graceful movements, or his look and costume. As one of the country’s top performers, his experiences have gone far and wide, and earned him a lot of accolades along the way.

Through his long career, he has had countless performances, highlights among them being the time that he performed for Cardinal Sin and his card manipulation routine was hailed as “a miracle” by the late archbishop; as well as the stage show he had at the NAIA Tarmac. He became known for his specialty of fire production and fire-related effects, which allowed him to stand out among his contemporaries, as well as his patented “70 tricks in 30 minutes,” replete with rapid-fire productions, manipulations, vanishes, and all other manners of magical routines. Choosing Lance Burton (And particularly, his candle act.) as his international source of inspiration, Bing exuded elegance and skill when performing routines, and had a distinct look that made him seem larger than life. Over the years, he has created or redesigned numerous effects, the secrets of which are probably lost with him or the lucky persons who would purchase the item in question he himself actually used to accomplish such effects.

Eventually, after his wife was injured in 2005, Bing contemplated retiring on his 20th anniversary as a magician, but ended up retiring a year earlier, having his last show on October 1, 2006. He wanted a definite end to his magic career, going out still at the top of his game, well before his star power as a premiere performer waned, and leaving many others clamouring for more from the man. For the past four years, it’s hard to count how many people begged him for “one last show,” and it seemed like no price could possibly make him don his suit and top hat again. As far as he is concerned, his professional magic days are behind him, but one can see that his skills are still sharp despite four years outside the limelight, whenever he teaches his customers magic routines after they purchase from him.

Considered a hermit by many, Bing Lim-It is a controversial figure: someone who preferred to work alone, rather than to belong to any particular group of magicians. To this day, I honor his request of never officially taking part in a magic group, and I certainly see the wisdom behind it. As a performer on the outside looking in and extending nothing but goodwill towards the magic community, my perception of magic groups has always been positive, and I have continued to be insulated from all the pitfalls and horror stories that others may have felt compelled to bring up over the years.

While a man as complex and as nuanced as Bing Lim-It may prove to be an individual who will always perplex and polarize those who know him or even just know of him, those who have taken the time to take a close look at the man know that behind the apparent veneer of jadedness lies a human being who has seen it all and done it all, and the wisdom that he imparts, whether or not you may agree with it, is born from the many experiences he has had that has shaped him to become the person that he is today. With this in mind, it becomes rather clear why I continue to honor and respect him, because while it’s so easy to focus on the idiosyncracies, the firebrand demeanor, and the self-assured opinions, there is an inner gentleness to Bing Lim-It: a kind soul longing to see the spark of magic continue in all the right ways, for all the right reasons. A longing that repeatedly gets extinguished yet keeps on reigniting, each time fainter than the last.

He is a walking paradox: on one hand, an accomplished magician; on the other, one who would rather leave those days behind him. Despite this, all the while, he runs a shop that reminds him of what he would rather leave behind on a daily basis. When one sees the full breadth of the human condition in him, one begins to see the many lessons he has to teach, without him ever having to utter a single word.

For that, I choose to honor him today, a day removed from National Heroes day, to commemorate everything he has put forth for the sake of the industry, then and now. To you, Bing Lim-It may be controversial, but to me, Bing Lim-It is my mentor.