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15 entries from July 2008

Criss Angel implodes

Just watched Criss Angel's escape from an imploding building and.. what can I say...? He promised it would be his last "life threatening" escape and that's a good thing.

You have to compare his escape to Copperfield's similar effect from years ago, and though Copperfield's wasn't live it had the same premise, executed in a slightly more credible manner, with a more magical finish.

Copperfield had us believe that he was trapped inside a safe when the building imploded. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't... who knows... it left a tinge of mystery before he reappeared in a spectacular fashion on a solid sheet of steel supported by saw horses.

Angel had us believe that he was on the roof, calmly trying to unpick locks when he knew he was way behind schedule. Instead of panicking, trying to kick the door open, or find another way out, he was fiddling with each lock, carefully putting lock picks back in his pockets when suddenly the cameras all went off and the building imploded.

Why didn't we see the explosion from inside of the building through the remote cameras? The answer is obvious and reveals the method used. Which is a pity. So we were left to believe that Criss was on the top floor of the six storey building, unprotected (not even by a safe), when it blew.

Then, in an extremely undramatic finish (appropriate perhaps for an escape that didn't purport to be magic) he was spotted walking towards the camera about 100' in front of the rubble. Not climbing out of the rubble (which would have worked if he was allegedly superhuman) but walking up, a little dusty, in front of the imploded building.

His brother rushed up to him and hugged him. Did he say "What the $@&# happened?" No. just "Are you okay?" The escape attempt apparently failed, his brother survived a six storey building implosion, and neither he, nor the show's host... or anyone... asked "What happened?"

To have TV viewers served up this level of television magic, and ask them to swallow it, really is a nail in the coffin of magic on TV.

I'm a fan of Criss Angel, I think he's come up with some amazing effects and - sometimes - his use of the medium is justified. But in this case, I think he's overstepped the mark. He can't possibly think the escape will fool anyone except the most trusting of viewers. Maybe those who think the WWE is real will be impressed... he presented a meandering "trick" devoid of magic that really requires the viewers to "BELIEVE".

In a word... disappointing.

The Blame Game

We had an interesting sermon this morning.

Most people would probably consider any sermon at our Church interesting, as our pastor is Adrian Kebbe (aka Harry Houdidn't), but Adrian takes his spiritual duties just as seriously as he does his comedy.

He gave this example: When you're stuck in a traffic jam and you get impatient with the car in front who's holding you up, he may be making you late, but he's not making you impatient. You choose to lose your patience.

How many times a day do things happen to us and our automatic reaction is "It's not my fault!"

It's as if it's a natural human reaction to pass the blame.

But even if we can see the other party has done us wrong, we don't have to fight back and lash out in retaliation but instead, through prayer, can seek the right way to handle the situation. A way that can teach us about ourselves and maybe even heal an otherwise damaged relationship.

There's a chap who has said he doesn't like me, he really doesn't like me, and the reason is that he says I snubbed him at a show we did a few years back. Apparently he was in line, he said "Hello" as I went past and I didn't say "Hello" back to him.

Now just because I don't remember the incident doesn't mean it didn't happen.

I was running around like a mad thing that night, frantically trying to pull things together, and he probably did say hello and I most likely didn't hear him.

But obviously the fact I didn't respond hurt him deeply, and as much as I could dismiss his complaint as "petty", that would achieve nothing more than rubbing salt in the wound.

What Adrian's message made me realise is that this incident was choreographed by God, in order to wake me up to the fact that, no matter how busy I am, I need to be more aware of other people.

In my case I need to work extra hard to overcome both my hyperactive nature, and my socially debilitating Asperger's Syndrome, a combination which sometimes results in me coming across as "aloof", "superior" or "egotistical" to those who don't know me.

They don''t realise that I find social interaction incredibly difficult, so they make their assessment of who I am based on the little they see of me. The Asperger's causes me to avoid speaking to people I don't know very well, and makes it almost impossible for me to look them in the eye while I talk to them. And small talk is not in my vocabulary, but it's up to me to give them them a better impression.

What makes it worse is that the Asperger's means I have absolutely no idea how I come across to others... so ideally, I avoid social situations and stick to the safety the stage.

It's a weird situation that many find impossible to understand. They see me "off stage" at a party and I'm so uncomfortably shy I can't wait to get out of there. They may even get the impression I think I'm too good to be there. But then they see me on stage and the personality difference is like Clark Kent and Superman!

But the bottom line is, I can't blame the Asperger's. I can't blame the other people for not being more tolerant and understanding of my discomfort. I can only affect change in myself, with God's help, and that's what I have to do.

When God asked Adam if he ate the apple, he blamed Eve for giving it to him and God for giving him Eve! But in the end it was his choice, regardless of pressure from Eve, to eat it or not.

He should have accepted responsibility, and when you or I find out that we've made someone feel bad, whether it's justified or not, we need to accept responsibility.

Whether Asperger's, or busyness, or distraction is the cause, we can't allow it to be the excuse and pass the blame back on the person who was offended.

It's a tough way to live, but it's the only way to live well.

IBM SAM in Louisville - Live Reports by Craig Mitchell

Craig Mitchell, from the College of Magic in South Africa, is over at the huge combined American magic convention right now and posting reports on a daily basis in the Genii Forum.

Everything from the kit he received when he registered


to the standard of the competition acts is covered in his usual "no holds barred" style.

You can read his reports by clicking the links below:








And the winners, of $US10,000 each, in America's "Convention of the Century" were:

CLOSE UP - Marc Oberon (UK)

STAGE - An Ham Lim (KOREA)

The Dark Knight

My review of 'THE DARK KNIGHT', two words:

"Compulsory Viewing"


If it's left you wanting more, or you just want to be prepared before you see it, take a look at some of the promotional websites:

The Joker: (trailer 1) (trailer 2) (Harvey Dent Teaser Trailer)

Harvey Dent/Gotham Political Sites:

Gotham News:

Gotham Police Department:

Gotham City, Business & Other:

Cosentino on Radio


Cosentino was interviewed on the ABC Radio National show 'Artworks' on Sunday.

Remember all those old magic tricks: sawing a woman in half, escaping from a straightjacket, the old water trap trick. Do they still impress you, make you hold your breath in shock and awe? Well Paul Cosentino is a 24-year-old illusionist who's taken it upon himself to transform these old tricks into something new—something that might appeal to the MTV generation.

Cosentino is on tour all around the country at the moment, with a show that's a combination of illusions, escapes, dance, and mentalism. Lyn Gallacher speaks with Cosentino and hears about some of his narrow escapes from death.

You can hear the interview by going here.

You've got to give it to get it

I think we all agree that the magic manufacturers who see someone else's new trick, then start manufacturing and selling "their own version" of the trick, are rip-off artists. They are showing the creator no respect and, in turn, they deserve no respect from us.

But what about performers who do the same thing?

I know of one who was really impressed by a particular trick created by another magician. It was a simple variation of another effect, but one so unique it had become his trademark. The envious magician approached the first magician and asked if he could do that trick too. The creative magician said no, it was his trademark trick and he'd prefer to keep it as his own. But the envious magician was persistent and, in the end, the creative magician said he'd allow him to do it for a fee of $2000. The envious magician said that was too high and tried to bargain with the creative magician. The negotiations ended.

Last week the envious magician did the effect on national TV.

In exactly the same way the creative magician performed it.

The envious magician got his way, as he always does, but he lost the respect of the creative magician and everyone who knows him.

Does he care? I doubt it.

Like the rip-off manufacturers he doesn't realise that magic is a small community and if you want the respect of other magicians you have to earn it.

At the moment this magician has been saying that he doesn't care about other magicians, the only people important to him are his clients.

He considers magicians are "petty", always arguing about "who created this" and "who created that".

Meanwhile, his clients are cooing over "his" new trick, and how cool it makes him look.

And whenever the creative magician performs his trick, clients think he's doing "the other guy's trick", the one they saw on TV.

Yes, the envious magician has won this round, but at a cost.

A cost he's far too short-sighted to see.

You can make a lot of money as a magic manufacturer by stealing other people's ideas and passing them off as your own.

You can make a lot of money as a corporate magician by stealing other people's ideas and passing them off as your own.

When it's so easy to be successful in this industry by doing the wrong thing, it's not surprising that so many people do it. But it will only take you so far.

But real success is gaining the respect of your peers. Once you get that, you can take it all the way to the top.