The wild comedic imagination of Eleanor Morton takes the gender switching theme from the Robin Williams film, Mrs. Doubtfire, and transplants it into Robert Louis Stevenson’s horror story. A really brilliant turn by Ms. Morton.
Well, we’re kind of late this year, but we’re trying something completely different: A holiday giveaway.
Look, frankly, the contest each year is mainly an excuse for me to giveaway some magic books from my bed in order to make some room so that I can sleep. So I thought this time I’d just cut out the middleman, skip the contest, and just give them away.
Well there is one hitch. These are very good books, believe me. It’s just that at this point something has to give. So here’s what I’ll do. I have generated a list of random whole numbers between 1 and 10,000. Email me a whole number between 1 and 10,000 at firstname.lastname@example.org Put the word “Contest” in the subject line. Make sure to include your shipping address.Do this before a week from now. Deadline is Saturday, December 3, 11:59 PM Pacific Time. That’s it. (Sorry, but due to shipping costs, this is only open to folks who live in the Continental US, but everyone else is welcome.) Please follow all the bolded directions, or I cannot accept your entry. Whoever is closest to the first number on my random list gets first prize; whoever is closest to the second number gets second prize, and so on. There will be 10 prizes given out.
First prize is first choice from the terrific grab bag of magic books I’ve put together; second prize is second choice from the grab bag; and third prize, in a parallel, numerically pleasing manner, is third choice from the grab bag, and so on, down to 10th prize gets 10th choice. The items in the grab bag are all commercial books at least one of which, I guarantee, you will be very happy to have.
Any course can be taken as the right course to take, but no course like that can be the course taken always.
Any name can be named to determine what is or should be, but no name like that can be what determines them always
Those are the opening lines of one of the oldest pieces of literature known, the Tao Te Ching. Aside from the Bible, it is also probably the most translated piece of literature known, written in about 400BC. Now, in a new translation by Brook Ziporyn transliterated as the Daodejing, English readers can get some new insight into this provocative and ambiguous classic, which I’ll be reading from.
If you’ve never encountered the Daodejing, you may be startled by its startling modern dialectical approach to life. This new translation with be published this January by Liveright Publishing; you can find more info here.
Click on the triangle or the mp3 link above to hear the reading as heard today on the Arts Express radio show broadcast today on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
And for our NY friends–we’re on at a new time on WBAI FM: Wednesdays, 9pm.
Julian Assange, the most important news publisher of our time, is unjustly imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison in England, with the threat of extradition to the US hanging over him. He is charged with violations of the Espionage Act, for publishing the truth about US war crimes. Prosecution under that act will gag him from talking in court about the very war crimes he revealed in secret documents.
There has been a global outcry at Assange’s imprisonment. Recently, Karen Sharpe has edited a book for the publisher OR Books consisting of quotes from Julian Assange’s speeches and writings called Julian Assange In His Own Words. With permission of the publisher, we present to you a reading from the book by some of our radio friends inspired by Assange’s courageous acts. It is critical that Assange’s words and ideas not be silenced; only massive public protest can hope to free him.
And so, now, with the help of our radio friends, Julian Assange In His Own Words.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link to hear the segment as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Well time flies when you’re having fun, and here we are at the 8th iteration of the Shalblog Industries® (division of Axlotl International) daily blog anniversary. As is our wont on such occasions (and who wouldn’t want to wont on such an occasion?) herewith a list of some of our favorite radio work of the past year that you may have missed.
As wars rage all around us, one war, WW II, still stands as the exemplar for the Good War. But is that a useful or accurate designation? And if not, why does that view still have such an outsized influence in the national discourse? I spoke with David Swanson who has written a book called Leaving World War II Behind which challenges the notion of WWII as the Good War.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with David Swanson on the Arts Express radio program on Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
** Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War: a special extended conversation with veteran union UAW organizer and hellraiser, Jon Melrod
**Little Amal Comes to Brooklyn: Little Amal is a 10-year-old refugee from Syria. She is also a 12-foot puppet who has traveled 5,000 miles across Turkey and Europe and now to Brooklyn, in search of her mother. A photo essay.
** Dennis Broe on Robert Colescott’s Anti-Racist, Anti-Imperialist paintings
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Fewer than 10 years ago, former NSA employee Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the US government’s illegal, unconstitutional, worldwide warrantless surveillance. Throughout history, brave whistleblowers have risked their lives and livelihoods for what they considered the greater good. But what is the cost these whistle blowers pay, and more importantly, how do the successful whistleblowers succeed?
I was happy to talk with author Tim Schwartz who has written a how-to guide for would-be whistle-blowers, uncovering many of the traps and missteps one can fall into, A Public Service: Whistleblowing, Disclosure, and Anonymity.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the conversation with Tim Schwartz as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
As corporations are making record profits, workers are being squeezed more than ever. But workers are fighting back in surprising ways. Jon Melrod, has been involved as hell raiser and union organizer for decades, ever since his groundbreaking union organizing on the shop floor for the United Auto Workers in the 70s and 1980s. He’s now written a rip-roaring memoir called Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War about his fight to make workers lives better, and I was happy to get the chance to interview him.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Jon Melrod, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
In our Arts Express Playhouse, a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman is best known for her novella The Yellow Wallpaper, but she also wrote hundreds of other short stories. The one I’m reading above, “If I Were a Man,” was written in 1914, before women even had the right to vote in the US, but it seems a whole lot more modern.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the story as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio show, heard on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
The American mass obsession with guns is clearly unique and filmmaker Richard Chisolm has made an intriguing short documentary called Gun Show which details one artist’s attempt to come to grips with the national gun worship.
Click on the triangle above or the mp3 link to hear my review as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
Kenneth Patchen’s poetry is a bullet right between the eyes.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear Mary Murphy and me read a selection of poems by Kenneth Patchen, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
The newest book by Marxist economist Michael Hudson has the imposing title of The Destiny of Civilization: Finance capitalism, industrial capitalism or socialism. It’s not exactly summer beach reading but it is one of those books that has added to my framework for understanding world events and I greatly appreciate that.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my review of the book as broadcast today on Arts Express radio program heard on WBAI-FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
A memorable day in any big city child’s upbringing is when they first enter a large museum and experience the wonders of a giant dinosaur, skeleton, or an ancient mummy. But in a new book, Decolonize Museums, our guest Shimrit Lee suggests that maybe museums are not as innocent as they seem…
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Shimrit Lee as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
It’s May, and May brings up thoughts of Mayday and revolution and Karl Marx’s birthday, May 5,1818, so I thought it might be worthwhile to read from the surprisingly readable Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to hear the reading as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
In 1954, the Supreme Court issued their ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, which was supposed to end segregation in US public schools. While that struggle was most visible in the South, it was occurring in different ways up North. In her book, Desegregation of the New York City Schools: A Story of The Silk Stocking Sisters, author Dr. Theresa Canada was part of a desegregation experiment herself as a student in NYC in the early 1960s.Through her own example and the oral histories of others, A Story of The Silk Stocking Sisters provides insight into the slow process of desegregation and eventual re-segregation within the New York City Public Schools during that time and the lessons learned. I was happy to speak with Dr. Theresa Canada about her experiences.
Click on the grey triangle or mp3 link above to listen to my interview with Dr. Theresa Canada as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.
Some people seek immortality through fame, but others want physical-body-forever immortality. A new book, The Price of Immortality, explores the numerous paths that people have sought to extend their lives—and the hucksters and scam artists who have taken advantage of them. I was happy to have as my guest, the author of ThePrice of Immortality, Peter Ward.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear my interview with Peter Ward, as broadcast today on Arts Express radio, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
It’s been quite a while since the three prior installments of this series (which you can see here, here and here) but perhaps the time off has been a good thing. In the previous installment, I limited myself to books that were generally in print–this time I went a bit more afield, though most of these books below are still pretty obtainable, though not necessarily in print anymore. I’ve also included books that I had either overlooked, or had already written about in other contexts, or simply had not owned or read before.
Switch by John Lovick: This is the last word in what has come to be known as the Hundred Dollar Bill Switch. There are dozens of variations and techniques taught in close detail, both tip and tipless, worth getting under your belt.
Act Two by Barrie Richardson: Richardson is one of my favorite magic writers and his books are overflowing with excellent mental magic plots, scripts, and methods. This book contains my favorite—and possibly easiest–parlor ACAAN effect.
Before We Begin by Asi Wind: This is a brilliant book that fills a neglected but important technique of mentalism. After reading this book with its very detailed scripts you might change your mind as I did, and consider the usefulness and effectiveness of this technique.
The Devil’s Staircase by Greg Chapman and Details of Deception by Greg Chapman: I’ve written about these two books on this blog before, so see those essays for more details, but in brief, these two books of Greg’s are filled with unique gambling type card routines, sleights and tools that will leave audiences with no possible explanation.
Approaching Magic by David Regal: all of Regal’s material is great, and in this big book there is a wealth of card, coin and parlor effects. Regal’s magic always has a strong premise and script, and his methods are often ingenious. This book also has some wonderful essays and will keep you busy for a long time. A desert island kind of book.
Smoke and Mirrors by John Bannon: Like David Regal, Bannon’s close-up card and coin effects are fun and ingenious, and any of his books are worth picking up. I like this early book best as I think it has some of his strongest magic in it for casual tabletop performance.
Magic For Young Lovers by Andy of the Jerx: this book is probably the hardest book on the list to find now–it was offered a few years ago to subscribers to Andy’s blog. When I read it, I thought it was one of the best magic books I’d ever read, outlining an approach to magic that really resonated with me. It conveyed what a true magic experience should encompass. This may sound strange, but I’ve never opened it since my first reading of it, because I’ve been reluctant to disturb the memory of what a great experience it was to read it that first time.
Outs, Precautions and Challenges by Charles H. Hopkins: I’ve written about this before on my blog, and it’s a fun little booklet to read. It’s kind of old-fashioned and maybe promises more than it delivers, but it presents a good outline of the problems a performer can face and some possible solutions.
In Order To Amaze by Pit Hartling: This is a must for memdeck workers. As powerful a tool that a memdeck is, the most difficult part of devising magic for it in my opinion has always been in creating entertaining plots and presentations for those effects. Pit Hartling’s ideas and scripts are superb and set this book apart from many others using the same tool.
The Magic of Alan Wakeling by Jim Steinmeyer: I don’t do much stage magic so I can’t say this is a book that I go back to many times, but it is a fascinating look at the mind of an incredibly ingenious designer and performer of stage illusions. The section alone on the Think-a-Drink plot and apparatus is inspiring.
The Annotated Erdnase by S. W. Erdnase and Darwin Ortiz: Eventually if you’re into cards you know one day you are going to have to eat your spinach, and Ortiz’s annotated version of Erdnase is a delightful way to do it. In this large hard bound book, Erdnase’s text is on the inside portion of the double page, while Ortiz’s commentary is in the outer margins. The commentary covers much historical and technical information that makes the journey even more tasty.
Routined Manipulation Finale by Lewis Ganson: I included this book because I think poor Lewis Ganson generally gets a raw deal as a magic writer. He tends to be dismissed because he is generally describing the work of other great magicians such as Dai Vernon, but his books are generally full of wonderful material. For the life of me, I can’t understand why this book, available in paperback, is not referenced more often. I think the contents rival the material in the Stars of Magic book. There are effects in here from Fred Kaps, Pat Page, Ali Bongo, Al Koran, Alex Elmsley, and more.
Faro Fundamentalsby Greg Chapman: I’ve written about this book on the blog before so see that essay for more detail. This 52-page booklet would be my go-to recommendation to learn not only how to faro but some excellent uses of it. Even if you already do a faro, you’ll find information in here that you may not have seen before that will help you get the most out of it.
It’s April 23rd, and for us it marks the anniversary of both the birthday of William Shakespeare and the day he died. In celebration of the date, we have produced a new radio version of one of the most intriguing of Shakespeare’s plays, Measure for Measure. I call it Shakespeare’s #Me Too play, and with its up to the minute Me Too themes of sexual harassment and hypocritical Puritanical seeming lying politicians, it couldn’t be more relevant to today. Of course, we couldn’t broadcast our entire play in our Arts Express time slot, but we are happy to present to you a key scene featuring two of our Arts Express stalwarts, Mary Murphy and KeShaun Luckie.
So let’s set the scene: We’re in 16th century Vienna and the newly appointed interim Mayor, Lord Angelo, has just declared a new Puritanical ban on out-of-marriage fornication, punishable by death. A young woman, Isabella, learns, just as she is about to take vows to become a nun, that her poor brother Claudio has run afoul of these laws and is about to be executed. She runs to Lord Angelo to beg him to spare her brother’s life, but Angelo insists that the law must be done. However, Angelo is secretly enamored by Isabella and he wants to see her again, so he tells her to come back the next day and maybe he will reconsider. And so, Isabella returns to Lord Angelo to plead again for her brother.
And now what happens next, from Measure For Measure.
Click on the triangle or mp3 link above to hear the segment as broadcast today on Arts Express radio, heard on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.
And If you’d like to listen to our entire production of the play, you can hear it here:
Earl Robinson may not be so well known nowadays as he once was, but in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, a huge number of Americans knew his music. He was the composer of “The House I Live In,” “Joe Hill,” “Ballad for Americans,” and many others. Singers of his works included Paul Robeson, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Joan Baez, and Three Dog Night. His music crossed the boundaries of folk, Broadway musical, classical, and even rock. Throughout his life he was driven by a need to improve working people’s lives, and he was a longtime member of the Communist Party, which resulted in his being called before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. His autobiography, Ballad of an American, written in collaboration with author Eric Gordon, was released in 1998, and has been out of print. Now it is being re-released, and we are happy to bring you, through the permission of Eric Gordon, this extract from the book, where we enact, in Earl’s words, his tangle with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.
Click on the triangle above to hear the reading as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI-FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.
It’s been a while since I did any magic write-ups, so here, in lieu of full reviews, are some brief comments on some magic related items I’ve encountered recently that I really appreciated.
First off, is Steve Spill’s new book. How is it possible that Steve Spill’s books keep complementing and topping each other? You’d think given how much Steve has tipped already, the well would have run dry. But not at all! His newest book, ASSASSIN, continues in the vein of his previous two books: real world advice for magicians who want to create in the real world. If you ever want to step on stage as a magician, this is the book you need: along with bullet-proof advice, every one of the newly published routines is a killer. Steve shows, both explicitly and by example, how to take a commonplace effect and turn it into a magical, fun-filled experience for your audiences. Highly recommended.
Next is Dan Harlan’s e-book, “Excellent Choice: The Art of Equivocation with Dan Harlan.” Dan Harlan is a master of a technique that’s so often done badly, that some magicians may think that it’s not worth it. And how wrong they would be. If you want to check out the best thread, bar none, in the Big Green Place, do a search on Harlan and equivoque, where Harlan does a mind-blowing online effect totally through his verbal posts. In this 60 page pdf, Harlan gives you four complete scripts, complete with all the branches and dialogue to enable you to cover a multitude of situations. You can use these scripts as stand-alone effects or as pieces of a larger routine. Learn it properly and you have one of the most powerful impromptu tools in magic.
Recently, I’ve been reading copies of The Hermit, a new monthly digital conjuring magazine in pdf form put out by Scott Baird. Each issue is about 50 pages, so the space devoted to each effect can be substantial. It’s very reasonably priced and if you like close-up magic you’re bound to find something in each issue that appeals to you. While most of the effects are from Scott, he has begun to attract other magician/writers: Jay Sankey has a regular column, and in the latest issue, Josh Jay contributes a variation of a Guy Hollingworth plot. Nicely illustrated, too.
And finally, there’s the Vanishing Inc Master Class series. It’s a monthly online lecture series that you subscribe to, and while not cheap, if you’re wondering, it’s totally worth it. The lectures by the likes of Dani DaOrtiz, Jamy Ian Swiss, Woody Aragon are at a level beyond the usual lectures that you may have seen before. This is truly one-on-one lecturing with magicians tipping moves, ideas and routines that they haven’t tipped before, with the opportunity of tuning in to a Zoom video call where you can ask questions of the lecturer. In addition, Vanishing Inc gives free access to some excellent videos, including items from Giobbi and Tamariz. And as if that weren’t enough, you get free shipping on anything ordered from Vanishing Inc. I would say try it out for a month or two, and see if you don’t look forward to it every month as I do.