If You Call A Sheep’s Tail A Leg, It’s Still A Leg

(Click to enlarge)

Fruits and vegetables looking suspiciously like deli meats.

Which recalls the old Abe Lincoln aphorism:

“Question: If you call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs does a sheep have?

Answer: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

Gerritsen Avenue

Brooklyn, New York

Halloween Tale: Revolt Of The Worms!

For Halloween, something special, an homage to the old-time 1940s suspense radio series Lights Out. I wrote and produced a modern update of the Lights Out episode called “Revolt of The Worms” for the Arts Express radio program, broadcast today over WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

“We caution you. This story is definitely not for the timid soul. So we tell you, calmly and very sincerely, if you frighten easily, turn off your radio now. And now if you haven’t already done so, turn off your… lights now… and listen to… Revolt of the Worms.”

Starring Mary Murphy, Josh Miccio and Reggie Johnson.

To listen, click on the triangle or image to play.

Don’t Let Me Down

Monday morning, another excellent cover of a lesser known Beatles song from Josh, Carson, Reina, and Toni.

A John Lennon penned song, it was released as the B-Side to the “Get Back” single, but for some reason it was cut from the Let It Be album.

Click on the image to play.

More at Carson McKee.

Hi-Jinx: Tommy Rall

Another of the great, but lesser known, film dance stars, Tommy Rall, who died this month. As a youngster, he was in a group of dancing teens called the “Jivin’ Jacks and Jills” at Universal Studios, which included Donald O’Connor. He was trained in ballet, and his amazing high jumps, pirouettes, and flips rival anything else seen on the screen. He appeared in movie musicals almost every year in the 50s, but somehow he never made it into super-stardom. O’Connor thought Rall was one of the greatest dancers living, a better dancer than either Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire.

Here he is with Ann Miller in “Why Can’t You Behave?” from Kiss Me Kate, where he mixes dance with some practical jokes in a fun character piece.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber JOHANNQUETEBEO

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

Quick Change!

This was fun. I count ten changes that Léa Kyle performs on her person, and a bunch more in isolation. As Penn says, quite unusual and accomplished for this kind of act.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber Best Magic and Magical Acts

The Fabulous Lois Bright and the Miller Brothers

The amazing African-American tap dancer, Lois Bright. She was married to Dan Miller one of the two tap-dancing Miller Brothers that you see in the clip above. Unfortunately, Lois Bright Miller never got her full recognition in show business, as the act was called simply, The Miller Brothers and Lois. But as you can see, she did everything that the brothers did and more.

Clearly, if you’re talking about the great female tap dancers of the last century such as Ann Miller and Eleanor Powell, then Lois Bright Miller is right up there.

Ginger Rogers, eat your heart out.

Click on the image to play.

Thanks to YouTuber lavenderhousefilms

Catch And Kill

(Click to enlarge)

We were sitting on a playground bench enjoying the children playing in the fountains, and watching a cute baby sparrow hopping in front of us.

In a moment, a large red-tailed hawk swooped down, grabbed the sparrow, and took him up to the tree you see above. You can see some of the remains of the sparrow in the hawk’s claws.

The next day, I went back to the area and though I didn’t see the hawk again, a birder told me that the children’s playground was a regular part of that hawk’s territory.

Marine Park Playground

Brooklyn, New York

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 Seven Words You Mustn’t Say

(Click to enlarge)

Despite the President’s use of the F-bomb Friday on the Limbaugh radio show, we here at ShalBlog® Industries have long taken heed of the fines and the sanctions that can be imposed on a broadcaster who allows the use of any of The Seven Dirty Words on the air, an FCC ruling which was upheld against WBAI by the Supreme Court in 1978.

As a constant reminder of the Seven Dirty Words to staff, the Second Executive Vice-President For Communications and Signage at ShalBlog® Industries has taken swift action to post the proper signage in ShalBlog® Radio’s Master Control room.

We thank him for his foresight and swift action.

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:

And Your Bird Can Sing

Monday Morning in the Park (Prospect?). Carson McKee takes the lead on a lesser-known Beatles song by Mr. Lennon. (The brass figleaf with bronze oakleaf palms if you can guess which album it’s from. Careful–it’s a bit of a trick question.)

Josh Turner on guitar, and guest Jim Hogan with the terrific harmonies.

Click on the image to play.

More at Josh Turner Guitar