Monday, 24 May 2010

Martin Gardner dies at the age of ninety-five

I have just heard that Martin Gardner has died; he was ninety-five years old. Most of the obituaries and articles that have suddenly appeared announcing his death present him as a mathematician and puzzle master. As yet, I’ve haven’t found any that speak of him being a creative and talented magician. When he wasn’t writing directly about magic, the subject of magic still permeated most of his other writings.

Gardner knew such luminaries as Dai Vernon and Faucett Ross and was a friend to other creative card men, such as Bill Simon. One of Gardner’s books, The Encyclopaedia of Impromptu Magic, is highly regarded; Paul Daniels and other professional magicians have praised it and remarked on its usefulness in providing material for ‘on the spur of the moment’ publicity opportunities.

So while many of the articles describe Gardner as a polymath in terms of mathematics, philosophy, literature and other subjects – let’s also remember that he was just as influential in the world of magic, and as in all the subjects he wrote about, stimulated curiosity and intelligence regarding it.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Answer to 'Who Is It?' Competition Number 3

To my surprise, a lot of people quickly provided the correct answer. From these correct answers a name was randomly chosen 'out of a hat' and a large bar of chocolate is on it's way to Janis.

The answer is R. Paul Wilson, one of the stars of BBC's The Real Hustle. In the film Shade, he plays Mr. Andrews and is seen only briefly. The film is full of references to card magic (see the review in the latest issue of The LaBaL for full details) and begins and ends with a shot of a pair of hands displaying sleight of hand with playing cards. The film itself is not award winning material but worth a look for people with an interest in the history of card magic for a game of 'spot the reference' in terms of character's names, etc.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Who Is It? Competition number 3

I've decided to make this a difficult one. No picture clue this time; it's all down to your knowledge of British television magicians. He appeared, fleetingly but instantly recognizable, in the film Shade - which is about card players and con men. His name didn't appear in the end credits. If any British magician was going to advise on and appear in this type of film, it would be him. Those are all the clues that you are going to get. A real toughy, this one.

On other matters, I haven't commented on the election because there has been an overdose of the subject in every form of media. Now that we finally know the result here is my only comment:
Welcome to Britain's new sitcom: Dick and Dom in Da House.

Let's hope we laugh more than we cry.
[Photograph the property of Getty]