A Night of Wonders Preview

A lot of people have asked what this show is all about.  Was it professional shot? Is it in HD?  Is it easy to see the magic?  Is it entertaining?  Can I own it? The answer to all of these questions is YES!  But here’s a video preview to help you out:

So how can you buy it?  Click here for more information

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What is a “normal” deck of cards?

All_cards

What is a “normal” deck of playing cards? What do “normal playing cards” look, feel, sound, smell and taste like? Is there a standard deck? How thick should a single card be? What material should the cards be made of? What does it sound like to flick the edge of one card? When do cards look like they have been marked or gimmicked in some way? Should the back design be simple and elegant or weird and mysterious?

These questions probably never cross the mind of the average person, yet they plague the mind of the magician and card cheat.  When you spend as much time with a deck of cards as I do, these questions are at the forefront of your mind.  The majority of magic I perform uses an un-gimmicked “normal” pack of playing cards.  (i.e. I bought them at Walmart, a gas station or preferably Costco for the bulk discount)  I have worked hard to hone my sleight of hand skills to create mysterious “card miracles” for my audiences without the aid of a special “magic store” deck.  If my audience doubts for one moment the validity of my cards, suddenly it is the cards, not sleight of hand, that gets the credit.

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When I lived in the USA, I vowed to only used Bicycle 808’s.  Produced by the United States Playing Card Company, or the USPC, this deck of “Poker” cards is trusted all over the USA.  The deck of cards, traditional printed with a red or blue rider back with an air cushion finish and weighing .12 kg, were first introduced by Russell, Morgan & Company (Later named Bicycle) in 1885. They were the 8th line of cards printed, thus being the 808’s. (Some of the other originals were the “Tigers” 101 series, “Army” 202 series, and “Navy” 303 series.)

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(Original look to the 808 series with the Russell, Morgan & Company Ace of Spades)

Though the USPC makes several other types of cards, including but not limited to Bee, Hoyle, Aviator, Maverick & Tally-Ho, Bicycle 808’s are their flagship of their lines of playing cards. If you see a professional magician in the USA, the majority of them are using with 808’s, mostly because people trust the “look” of them.  This is also why a version of the 808’s were specially designed for the World Poker Tour.  Often when touring in the USA I will even mention during my show that I purchased my cards (808’s) at either Walmart or in bulk at Costco.

Then everything changed!  I moved to France. I quickly noticed that every magician I hung out with in Paris seemed to have a different type of cards. A few had my treasured 808’s, yet it was no longer the majority. When I asked what is the “normal brand” of cards in France, the French magicians said there is no such thing.  In fact, “normal” French face or royal cards do not have a [K]ing, [Q]ueen and [J]ack. Instead they have a [R]oi (french word for king) [D]ame (french word for lady, not queen) and [V]alet (french word for servant or valet, thus being the jack).

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(Random souviner deck, with french R, D & V)

They went on to say that the typical French person views Bicycle 808’s as being “Magician Cards” for they are pretty expensive, so only true professional poker players or magicians spend the money on them.

Which brings me again to my question: What is a “normal” deck of playing cards?? Company’s such as Theory 11, Ellusionist and Dan & Dave seem to come out with a new deck every month. Some are weird, some are simple, each boast of their new abilities. So does it matter?  Should I just pick a deck I like and go with it?  Should I stick with my 808’s?  Please weigh in on this in the comment section below and help me.

I’m also posting some pictures of some of the random decks in my office:

aces

The Ace of Spades is often the signature card in a deck.
backs
Back designs can range from 2 naked angels on bicycles (808’s)
to a picture from a famous landmark or country.
HFP_0173 copy
“Magic Castle” cards from their gift shop.
HFP_0174 copy
The “Ultimate Deck” by Dan and Dave.
Cards I would never play with or use for magic, but are amazing peices of art.

HFP_0170 copy

I love the cards from Spain that my friends just gave me that do not have “normal” suits, but rather suits now mostly thought of as Tarot suits (though they do not have any supernatural psychic powers and actually were just the original suits of cards).
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My Favorite Club


In the heart of Hollywood, just two blocks from the Graham’s Chinese theatre, the Walk of Fame and the Dolby Theatre (where the Academy Awards are held every year) stands The Magic Castle.  An old Hollywood mansion built in 1909, the Academy of Magical Arts made the castle its club house in 1963.  Since that time, every magician’s dream has been to visit this epicenter of our art.  It is a member’s only club with a strict, formal dress code.  For the last four years, I have had the honor and privilege of being a member of this prestigious club.  Though my wife and I have lost count of the number of visits we have made to The Castle, every time we speak the secret password that reveals the hidden entrance, we feel a sense of awe entering this elite club house.

“Members and Guest Only”

From the outside it appears exactly as it is named, a castle.  Driving up to the valet only entrance you enter into a very small lobby with bookcases and a small reception desk.  With exception to the small gift shop, there are no other doors besides the one you entered through.  Once the receptionist approves your party’s entrance you walk over to a statue of an owl (in homage to the clubs logo) and whisper the secret password, to which a hidden doorway opens up.  Walking through this entrance, past a suit of armor and into the main bar you instantly have a sense that you are in a special place. 

Vintage paintings of revered magicians adorn the walls, as well as some paintings with moving eyes and even a Houdini fish take with live eels.  Pieces of Hollywood yesteryear can be found throughout the interior, including the backdrop from Jonny Carson’s tonight show and the bar seen in Hello Dolly.

 

 

Within The Castle walls spanning three levels are three main show rooms: the Close-Up Gallery (seating only 22 people), the Parlor of Prestidigitation (for mid-sized acts) and the Palace of Mystery (featuring larger illusions).  On weekends, there are two additional show rooms, the Peller Theater and the W.C. Field’s Bar.  Besides the three main show rooms, magic-members are often seen performing for guests or working on moves with other magicians at random tables scattered throughout building.  It is fair to say that no other club in the world hosts the same amount of magic as does The Magic Castle.

This is why I feel so honored to be a member of this amazing place!

Whether you are a magician or simply a fan of the art, The Magic Castle is an experience not to miss!

For more info visit: www.MagicCastle.com

Posted in Mentalism

The Falsity of Tarot Cards

I have been researching and writing a lot for my upcoming book, “The Real Supernatural.”  When in search of the real supernatural a look at the occult arts is necessary.  The occult arts are prominent in every culture.  Whether it is a deck of tarot cards, a crystal ball, an Ouija board, a palm being read or a séance, even non-religious people often think there is something supernatural about the occult.  I wanted to share my findings about tarot cards:

This form of fortune telling heavily relies on cold-reading and Barnum statements (see “My Take On Psychics“).  There is nothing supernatural about tarot cards and an honest look into them should quickly disprove other claims.

When you want to use tarot cards the first thing to decide is what type of deck you would like to use. All tarot decks have the same make up, seventy-eight cards consisting of four different suits: pentacles, wands, chalice and swords.  Choosing a deck is a completely subjective decision depending on what type of art you prefer.  If you are drawn to more Christian type imagery then get a deck with art that depicts that, if you are drawn more to pagan imagery get a deck with pagan pictures, if you really like baseball you can get a deck with baseball imagery.  When picking out a deck, most would advise to simply go with what makes you feel good.

How it makes you feel and what you want the cards to say is completely up to you.  For example, the three of swords, usually depicted as a heart with three swords in it, can mean either extreme heart ache or extreme union or camaraderie, depending on how the reader wants to take it.

How can something supernatural be going on if the cards used, the imagery on the cards  and even the meaning of what the cards mean vary that much?  In my opinion, a tarot card reader is simply a good storyteller, not someone working supernaturally.

Though I believe all of these occult practices to be based on natural means, I highly discourage anyone from engaging in them.  All of them encourage you to open yourself up to the spiritual world in an all-encompassing way.  Spiritual enlightenment is a noble goal, but when you open yourself to every spirit, often the evil ones respond to the invitation as well.  Though these practices do not have supernatural forces themselves, they are a gateway into spiritual bondage.  I am not saying that Bloody Mary will appear in the mirror, or even that your dead grandmother will be contacted at a séance.  What I am saying is that evil spirits will respond to any invitation, and only seek to destroy any real chance of spiritual awakening.

Posted in Mentalism

A Supernatural Exchange

Today we celebrate a supernatural exchange!

That while we were enemies of the Creator of all things, Jesus died in our place, taking our sin on Himself. We deserved to die, hell our destination, but now death is no longer the end! Death is defeated!! If you know this supernatural gift,celebrate what your King has done for you!!! If you do not know this supernatural gift, then please realize what Jesus went through so that you may know what it is to call Him Savior.

On Friday a “thief,”

ON SUNDAY A KING!!

Posted in Mentalism

A Real Supernatural Testimony

Here are two videos of a friend of mine who experienced the Real Supernatural, in that way of a physical healing.  Two years ago my friend Trina was healed instantly of all of her symptoms of M.S. (“Multiple Sclerosis,” a chronic disease that attacks the nervous system). As always I’m a skeptic on these things, and you’ll even hear that in my voice on the first video.  When she went to the doctor and had an MRI she found out that God did not heal the lesions on her brain.  When someone tells a healing story, often it is exaggerated afterward.  I had a temptation to do that here.  It makes a much better story if you don’t mention the legions on her brain.  I do not know why God did not heal the legions.  So why do I consider her healed, or that she experienced the real supernatural?

Well, one day Trina could not stand up alone if she closed her eyes, or walk in heals because she would fall down, or swing a golf club without falling over.  Then after two girls prayed for her, instantly she can do all of that.  INSTANTLY. Not over time.  She did not take any new drugs.  She did not get hit on the head.  People simply prayed, and now she has not experience any symptoms for the last two years.  Sounds pretty supernatural to me!

Here’s the video from the night she was healed:

Here’s the video I took yesterday two years later: 

Posted in Mentalism

A Performance that Lasts

Recently, I was able to see two different performances that really struck me, yet in very different ways. They have both inspired me to strive to always be a better performer:

1) Guy at the back of the Disneyland parade. There’s a guy who’s job is to dance on the back of the last float of the Disneyland Parade. Here’s a short video I took on my iPhone:

This guy amazed me, and here’s why. For the first time after sitting with our kids and watching the parade go by, my wife and I decided to follow the parade out of the park. For a while we simply walked behind and talked, while listening to the same music, “Step In Time” play over and over. After a little while, my wife told me to look at the dancer on the back of the last float. This guy seemed to have the most energy of the entire cast, and yet was only really seen by the people who were following the parade. In fact when we went between the backside of the castle and the Matterhorn (where there were really no people watching) he seemed to turn it into overdrive for us. We were amazed that though he only had like a 4’x2’ dancing area, how much energy and charisma he brought to us poor tired folk following the parade. I was so impressed with his performance that I told my wife Maribeth, “I’ve got to film that guy and write a blog about him.

Yet that was last week and though it brought us happiness that night and we were completely taken by his performance, I could not completely formulate the blog post in my mind. That takes us to performance # 2.

2) Lacrae. Lacrae is on top of the Christian Hip-Hop scene and is one of the best live musical artists I have seen in my life. First, the energy that he and his backup singer had the entire show was better than most punk bands I have seen in my day. His dancing and jumping around hyped the crowd so much that he had the entire Savemart center moving. His rhymes and beats were not the normal “Christian music” that one would expect. (It’s sad that I even need to write that since if Christians are truly serving the most creative Being in the universe, than they should BE the most creative artists out there!) But Lacrae shows how creative his God has made him with incredible beats. Often when telling someone about him I say, “it doesn’t sound like ‘Christian-Hip-Hop!’”

But here’s the difference between Lacrae and the Disneyland parade dancer: From how Lacrae presented himself on stage to his lyrics, he was glorifying something greater than himself in a way that left me with something more. This is in no way to disrespect the Disneyland dancer! What I loved about the Disneyland dancer was that he gave it his all, even when only a few people were looking, and I will keep that with me for a long time. But the difference with Lacrae was that he brought a message that was straight up good news that brings me much more than mere happiness for a while, but JOY for eternity! And because of that it, will leave a lasting, if not eternal, impression on my life. Lecrae is an artist that brings attention to the One who all creativity flows from!

One thing that Lacrae said that I will hold onto as I go out and perform is, “I do not want to be a celebrity! I aspire to be a hero. For a celebrity seeks the fame for himself, where a hero brings glory to the One it is due!”

Check out Lacrae’s video called background! I hope this is how I perform:

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