Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Magicians, a new television series

Twitter was a-buzz today with news of the BBC bringing a new magic show to prime time television in the New Year. R. Paul Wilson and Alexis Conran, of The Real Hustle, will be the magical brains behind the program whilst other magicians appear in the program. The program will be called The Magicians; there have been some emails asking if (because of the name) the series connects in any way with my art exhibition Magicians which begins on October 31st of this year – no, there is no connection whatsoever. There will be an aspect of competition in the series. For more details see the BBC press release by clicking on the link below.

The Magicians

Monday, 20 September 2010

I've Loved You So Long (on DVD)

These days, it’s rare to find a film which puts any trust in the intelligence of the audience. Even the most well intentioned real life dramas spend a lot of screen time directly explaining, in dialogue between characters, every step of the story in case the audience are not able to follow the plot. It’s a shame that this has become such a prevalent trend. It shows a lack of faith from the film industry towards their potential customers. It also means that dramas of high quality, such as I’ve Loved You So Long, are rare.

I’ve Loved You So Long puts trust in the audience’s ability to pull together the details to understand the film as the stories unfolds. Information on the underlying family mystery is presented to us not merely through the usual, overdone, method of dialogue but also through visual and emotional means. Film is a visual medium after all and to not make full use of that is to undermine the medium itself.

Kristin Scott Thomas is excellent in her role of Juliet. We learn a lot about her character through what she doesn’t say, refuses to say at times, and expresses in silent but emotional reaction to the others around her. Books and reading are made into themes, or recurring symbols, in the film. Something which is appropriate since the film is like a visual novel, using literary techniques of a novel to gently expound the inner life of the central characters. I’ve Loved You So Long therefore touches our emotions in a subtle but very strong way and the ending becomes deeply emotional.

To say any more would be to start to give away the plot. I can’t recommend this DVD enough. It’s probably Kristin Scott Thomas’ best film role to date.

[Photograph copyright by the film makers].

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Cards On The Table by Jerry Sadowitz

Just a brief note on the excellent book Cards On The Table by Jerry Sadowitz. I’ve noticed copies of this book on sale on sites such as Ebay; the price tends to be £25 to £60. There is no need to pay such a high price. The book is still in print and available from the publisher Martin Breese at £15.

This is not a book for amateurs but the effort put into learning the tricks is well worth it; for example, Name a Card Triumph and Ambitious Spots are both rewarding tricks to learn that never fail to amaze spectators.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Update Regarding My Website

Well, my website has been cleansed of the naughty spambot software that was attacking it and creating fake web pages full of spam. My lenghthy and daily chore of deleting huge numbers of files is now thankfully at an end. My webhost did their job well and by the end of next week I’ll be able to restore any missing files that are meant to be there.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Round the Square

Magic squares have a reputation of being the least appealing form of magic because there is a mathematical principle seen to be involved. To be honest, when I have read ideas for magic squares the information given usually does live up to a promise of dullness. The problem tends to be a complete lack of regard for performance. The best card trick in the world becomes lack lustre when thought and preparation regarding performance is missing.

Al Smith’s book, Round the Square, focuses on the very need - the very aspect of how to incorporate a magic square into a performance. The end result is magic. It can be presented as mentalism, psychic phenomena, an experiment in superhuman mental agility or plain old magic. In some of the tricks, any aspect of calculation appears to be hindered or impossible on the part of the magician and yet the magician succeeds in bringing about a magical conclusion. Al Smith cleverly creates a situation where the audience believes that what has happened involves far more than any mere mathematical principle and calculation. And they would be right. We all know that if you choose any line of numbers in a magic square it will add up to the same number on that magic square. But how is it possible for the magician to predict, in an envelope sealed before the performance, what that number will be when it is a volunteer randomly choosing the numbers that will fill a grid to form a magic square? After all, how can a magician know what numbers will be chosen prior to the trick being performed?

The book does not simply list and describe tricks; it teaches the principles involved, step by step, before explaining tricks such as Origeightor which received a lot of attention back in 1992 when Al Smith published it in Abra and Paul Daniels adapted it for use in one of his television shows. After explaining Origeightor Smith improves on it and then goes through many of what are seen as the weaknesses of magic squares and provides easy, workable solutions to aid performance. If you want to add a different form of mental magic to your repertoire then Smith’s book is more than worth a look. It will inspire your own ideas and improvements. For those who are interested, details on how to buy a copy can be obtained by emailing

Monday, 6 September 2010

Back To The Blog

I have been neglecting my blog for some time; this has simply been down to being involved in others things to the extent that I had no time to post any blog entries. That does not mean that I do not have blog entries ready and waiting to be posted. They will begin to appear this week and hopefully I will be back to posting two entries or so a week. I hope to include more reviews of books because the response to those type of posts have been good so far.
There are various bits of news to relate but I will leave that for another post. The only titbit of information I will give here is that my website has finally (as all websites do at some point) become victim to spam hackers. I spent an evening deleting files that were generating themselves in my webhosting account. They have stop appearing for the moment but are likely to reappear. I am relying on my webhost to sort out the problem.
I can only wait and see.