Let It Be Me: The Everly Brothers

Rolling Stone magazine named them the Greatest singing duo ever. They influenced everyone from the Beatles to Simon and Garfunkel. Phil and Don Everly, brothers whose artistic and business partnership was famously contentious, make some of the most beautiful harmonies ever in pop music.

They called “Let It Be Me” the most beautiful song they had ever recorded.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber Orvil Morris

David Graeber: Bullshit Jobs

David Graeber died last month and it was a real loss. The radical anthropologist was probably best known as the author of Debt: The First 5000 Years, but my favorite book of his is the quirky Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. Here’s my commentary on this important book as broadcast today on the Arts Express program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the country.

Click on the triangle or the image above to listen.

Turn The Radio On

Monday Morning, Chan Poling’s band, The Suburbs.

It’s a catchy song, but on reading about it, I found Chan dedicated the song to the memory of his deceased wife, Eleanor, the daughter of Walter Mondale, who died at 51.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber MN Original

Pay It Forward

Weird Al Yankovic with his hilarious song about unwanted forwards. And hey–I think I spotted myself at 1:43 to 1:50, especially since this video was first posted in 2011. Thanks, Al!

Click on the image to play.

More at alyankovic

Cosmos | Possible Worlds |: Ann Druyan

In 1980, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan created the wildly successful television series and book, Cosmos. Now, forty years later, Ann Druyan has come out with a third series of Cosmos and a companion book called Cosmos: Possible Worlds. I was happy to interview Ann Druyan about the new series.

To hear the interview as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM and Pacifica affiliates across the nation, click on the image or the triangle above.

“When You Believe In Things You Don’t Understand, Then You Suffer”

Monday morning, Stevie Wonder at the age of 22 killing it on Sesame Street, of all places, with “Superstition.” Still great.

Click on the image to play.

“Superstition”

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders ’bout to fall,
Thirteen-months-old baby broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way

Very superstitious, wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin’ strong,
You don’t wanna save me, sad is my song

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way, yeah, yeah

Very superstitious, nothin’ more to say,
Very superstitious, the devil’s on his way,
Thirteen-months-old baby broke the lookin’ glass,
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer, superstition ain’t the way, no, no, no

Thanks to YouTuber Ryan’s Smashing Life

The Five Foot Shelf of Magic: Foot Three

Here are my suggestions for foot three of the five foot shelf of magic books. You can find my suggestions for the first foot here, and the second foot here.

In this installment, we’ll be getting into more specialized and advanced books, yet I think the information in each of them is valuable no matter what area of magic most intrigues you.

The Dai Vernon Book of Magic by Lewis Ganson: Some of the classic close-up routines of magic, including The Chinese Coins, that should be in every magician’s repertoire.

Restaurant and Bar Magic by Jonathan Kamm: Kamm is a bar magician, and in this slim book of effects he explains some wonderful mainstays of the bar magician. If you’re not a drinker, don’t let the appellation of bar magic worry you. Bar magic is close-up magic that requires little in the way of props, but it has a very clear plot, is visual, often modular, and has high impact. There’s a great repeat card under deck routine here as well as seven other routines which, as they say, are workers.

Marked for Life by Kirk Charles: This is a slim paperback on how to create your own deck of marked cards and tricks to do with same. There’s a hilarious trick done with a rubber stamp imprint of a cat’s paw that I used to have a lot of fun with. But the real winner here is the system for marking cards that Bob Farmer came up with that requires only a red Sharpie on a red Bicycle deck which produces marks that can be seen from a good distance.

Expert Card Technique by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue: This one may sit on the shelf until you’re ready for it, but once you are, you will be amazed at the gems of advanced card magic sleights and effects it contains: passes, glimpses, transpositions. Though written before Royal Road to Magic and Card College, this is the post-graduate course.

Taschen Magic Posters: I’ve written about this book before, and I continue to feel that it’s one of my favorite magic books of all time. This multi-lingual large-size edition pictured above is out of print and hard to find now, but there’s a smaller sized abridged version available at very reasonable cost, which is still quite wonderful. It’s beautifully put together with glorious reproductions of hundreds of years of magic posters interspersed with essays from the likes of Jim Steinmeyer. It’s big, heavy, and an absolute pleasure to pull out on a rainy day.

An Actor Prepares by Konstantin Stanislavski: while this volume was meant for theater actors performing in a scripted play, there is much here to be learned here about communicating with an audience. The Spanish magician Juan Tamariz summarized some of this information in The Five Ways of Magic, but An Actor Prepares goes more deeply into some important aspects of performing and getting ready to perform. Pay special attention to the sections on Relaxation, Concentration, Units and Objectives, Faith and a Sense of Truth, The Super-Objective, and Communion.

Act Two by Barrie Richardson: There’s more great mental magic in this sequel to Theater of the Mind. If you’ve always wanted to learn a memdeck, but don’t think you’re quite up to it now, there’s an easy to memorize half memdeck here that’s very useful. In particular, it’s used in a easy-to-do stage ACAAN that plays big. There are many other mental effects and techniques here that are worth exploring as well.

Card College, Volumes 2, 3, and 4: by Roberto Giobbi: Card College is a massive achievement but I think Royal Road substitutes well for Volume 1 and has better tricks, and Volume 5 is largely a book of pleasant but unessential card tricks. For me, the real stars of the CC series are Volumes 2, 3 and 4, which form an excellent detailed reference for learning and executing the most common card sleights one might come across in other sources.

Magic is My Weed and How to Make Love the Steve Spill Way both by Steve Spill. I put these two books together because frankly it is hard to decide between them. Simply, read them both. They are not cheap, but if you are planning to set foot onstage before a large audience in a regular professional capacity, these books would be a very wise investment. I did detailed reviews of the two books here (Weed) and here (Love). If you want to be a performer and not just a guy or gal doing tricks, these books are a goldmine of information. Wonderful effects, jokes, scripts, but even more wonderful advice about how to construct an act and entertain an audience.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

With the madness of the last week it’s nice to just relax and give oneself up to an artist who is totally in control of her talent.

Lady Gaga sings a jazz/pop version of the Rodgers and Hart standard that promises a lot and delivers a lot.

She sang this often on her 2015 tour, and if you look on YouTube, you can see that in every performance the vocal arrangement is different, she’s clothed in a different costume and wig, and yet every performance is right on the money. Really a rare talent.

Click on the image to listen.

Thanks to YouTuber Lucs Said

The Young Lords, Part 2: Johanna Fernández

Baruch College History Professor Johanna Fernandez appearing on Book Beat.

Welcome to part two of my interview with Johanna Fernández author of The Young Lords, a deep but very readable book about the history and significance of that revolutionary 1960s political group. Last week in Part 1 we talked about the origins of The Young Lords and their successful church and hospital occupations in East Harlem. This week, we continue their story, as I ask Johanna to talk about the women who had become members of The Young Lords.

Click on the small triangle or the image above to hear the interview as broadcast today on Arts Express on WBAI.org and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

You can hear Part 1 of the interview here:

The Sixth Annual Shalom Blog Magic Contest

It’s time once again for this blog’s annual magic contest!

So here is the challenge this year:

What are the two (three is optional) most memorable magical effects you’ve ever seen? Tell us the circumstances, and why you were so impressed by those effects. That’s it. In your entry, see if you can put the reader in your place, and see if you can transmit some of that feeling that you experienced.

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. The items in the grab bag are all commercial books, at least one of which, I guarantee, you will be very happy to have.

All are welcome to participate. And even if you were a past winner before, feel free to participate again as long as you were not a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place winner last year.

And in the spirit of everyone being a winner, I’ll ask all entrants to allow me to make up a pdf file which includes their entry. This pdf will NOT BE SOLD, but will be offered only as a free download to all those who entered.

Send your entries please to jshalom@worldshare.net

Make sure to put the word CONTEST in the subject line

Deadline Monday,  November 1, 11:59 PM. In case of a tie, earlier entries get preference.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

October Arts Express Newsletter

Another blockbuster issue!

Highlights include:

Fast and Furious actress Michelle Rodriguez on her new project, Stuntwoman, about the women challenging a male-dominated industry

Artist Cynthia Parsons McDaniel displays her collages, dioramas, and photos

Legendary poet Sonia Sanchez with some classic poems

Dennis Broe on the Two Faces of Netflix—Left and Right—in competing Colombian tv series.

And much more!

Get your free copy and free subscription by emailing us at Artsexpresslist@gmail.com and put the word “subscribe” in the subject line

Try To Remember

On the last day of the month, we think of Septembers past. Though there are many fine versions of the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt classic from The Fantasticks, in this case, schmaltziest is best, and that inevitably means The Brothers Four.

Click on the image to play.

More at Mark Pearson

The Young Lords: A Radical History, Part 1

In her fascinating new book, The Young Lords, Professor Johanna Fernández makes a compelling case that the Young Lords were one of the most important revolutionary groups of the late 60s and early 70s. They won lasting victories by coupling street smarts, sophisticated organizing techniques, and intense political analyses. There’s much to be learned from their story, both successes and failures, which is cogently and lovingly told by the author.

Click on the triangle or image above to hear my interview with Johanna Fernández, as broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program, heard on WBAI NYC and Pacifica stations across the nation.

You can find Part 2 here:

The Secret Revealed, Avocadally

There’s an old magicians’ dictum that if you want to hide the secret to a magic trick, print it in a book. That probably goes double for blogs. So after much thought, I’ve decided to reveal in this blog the secret of one of the world’s most perplexing problems. Probably no one else will ever bother to read this, so the secret’s safe just between the two of us.

As far as I know, I’m the first and only one to crack this particular code. It wasn’t as if it hadn’t been tackled before, Lord knows. There have been dozens of hare-brained schemes, some of which may have even sounded logical and promising at first. But none of them stood the acid test of successful experiment. All other solutions faded, like a mirage that shimmers on the desert’s dust. Only my solution remained.

I would like to claim that the answer came to me in a flash of blinding light, or in a dream, or perhaps was whispered to me by some Holy Man at the end of a long and perilous mountain climb. But I would be indulging in romantic fantasy were I to maintain such. No, the truth, as it so often is, was more mundane, grittier, sweatier. As Thomas Edison so aptly said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. How true that was. So Herculean were my efforts, I could have used a whole barrelful of deodorant.

It would be, perhaps, foolish to proclaim myself a genius. The word is bandied about so freely and carelessly in this present slipshod generation, so much so, as to almost lose all sense and meaning of the word. And yet in this one instance, in this one happenstance, it would be, perhaps, false modesty and a dereliction of the historical record to downplay my achievement. Through constant toil, testing, tedious trial and error, sleepless nights, days when my bones cried out for rest, still I continued on, persevering against the greatest of odds, first trying this, then trying that. Over and over and over again.

All for the trivial avocado, you say? Nay, a thousand times nay. And no. For humankind I say, for our children, and our children’s children, and for their descendants everlasting. And perhaps, too, for the ancestors, who now smiling down upon us, may rest more easily, knowing that that which had tormented them in their all-too-brief sojourn on this mortal coil, could now, at long last, be put to bed. Rest, rest, perturbed spirits!

One cautiously cuts the avocado in half. Rather than greedily devouring the entire avocado, like the judicious ant and not the profligate grasshopper, one places but one half of Nature’s gift carefully on the plate to enjoy what Mother Earth hath given unto us: one hemisphere of verdant green to eat but then, one hemisphere, equally verdant, to carefully store in some manner.

And here is the crux of the matter: no matter in what way one stores that half globe of delight for a later meal, when one returns to it, it has turned into an unrecognizable foul thing, scarcely of this earth, marred with all manner of mold and rottenness, like a Cabinet member in office for more than two weeks. With the pit or without the pit; in a baggie or exposed to the winds; in the refrigerator or by the hearth; immersed in unnamed secret liquid potions or dried under the heat of diverse planetary suns, the sickening result is still the same: base, blight, decomposition, decay, and heart-rending waste. The Gods mock our pitiable efforts to stop the hands of withering time.

That is, until now. Listen up, guys. Here’s what you do.

Cut the avocado in half, vertically. The pit will be in one side of the avocado. That’s the half you’re going to store. Get yourself some Seventh Generation unbleached recycled paper towels. No, believe me, it’s not going to work with just white paper towels. Forget that Bounty crap. With one sheet, wrap up the half avocado with the pit. Put it in your refrigerator. Eat the other half. Now come back a day later, and if the avocado wasn’t too ripe to begin with, when you go back to your refrigerator and unwrap the half with the pit, you will have a very respectable looking half avocado. Yes, as Mama used to say, God never sends us a problem more than we can handle.

Now go, and godspeed. And wipe that green junk off your lips.

On Unwanted Change

We usually don’t do more than one post a day, but here we are:

In line with the basic rule that any time a program is updated it will suck even more, have less functionality than before, lose data, ruin your work flow, and take hours to actually get this worse version to come to some semblance of rudimentary performance and/or appearance, WordPress, without announcement, has “retired” our blog theme and also instituted a new editor to create posts.

No matter what imagined benefits the flacks at WP may pitch to us, it’s spinach and we say the hell with it.

Here at Shalblog Industries® our teeming minions have always striven to give the reader a decent daily blog experience. After almost six years of daily posts, the frustration level with these “improvements” is reaching the boiling point. It will take us a while to adjust, so in the next few days, you may see the appearance of the site change its design somewhat. We will still post everyday, it’s just that the layout will probably look different. For example, the blog name is ridiculously large, and there doesn’t seem a way to do anything about that. But don’t worry, it’s still us, the same Shalblog Industries® team scouring the world daily to bring you the finest in musings, memories and magic .

Africa: Toto

Monday morning after sifting through literally dozens of versions, band configurations, and covers, we settle on this 2013 version of the 1981 Toto song.

Dave Paich: lead vocals, keyboards and writer

Simon Phillips: drums

Nathan East: bass

Steve Lukather: lead guitar

And because here at Shalblog Industries® we use every part of the buffalo, expect more versions of it posted this week.

Thanks to YouTuber MADIM67

The Semicolon Song

A very silly, clever song. Make sure you stay for the end, if you don’t want to be completely confused. Language definitely not suitable for work or the easily offended.

More at thelonelyisland

Diana Rigg, 1938-2020

Diana Rigg died this week. A fine actress, the clip above shows her in a few of her famous roles.

But my favorite thing that Diana Rigg ever did as an artist was to write a book called No Turn Unstoned: The Worst Ever Theatrical Reviews. Stung by unkind reviews that she had received over the years, to cheer herself up, Rigg compiled a book of horrendous reviews that other celebrated actors had received over the years. If you can get a hold of a copy, it’s a fun read.

Thank you, Mrs. Peel.

Thanks to YouTuber Guardian News