As a kid, I was obsessed with magic. I saw all those David Copperfield specials on TV and dreamed of being a magician just like him. Whether he was walking through the Great Wall of China or making a Learjet disappear or vanishing the Statue of Liberty, he made the magic of magic entirely too cool.
My attempts at becoming a magician were not terribly successful (as you probably guessed). My parents were really supportive about it... ordering magic sets from the Sears & Roebuck catalog for Christmases and birthdays... but all of the mass-produced toy crap in the world wasn't going to turn me into a master magician.
Don't tell that to me at the time though.
I was convinced that all I really needed to be successful was the latest and greatest magic set. It all culminated with "The Magic Hat," which was a fairly expensive toy that I was certain would get me my own television special when I saw it in the catalog...
Photo Credit: thargoids/eBay UK
But when it arrived, it was pretty shitty. The "hat" was hard plastic... and heavy. There was no way you could ever actually wear it. The tricks were crap as well. There was a hidden compartment for a wand in the sides that was obvious... a hidden swing-door compartment in the bottom that wouldn't fool anybody who bothered to look at it... and it had a tank in it so you could pour in a glass of water which would "disappear" that you could then pump out with a hidden bladder under the band. Awful, awful stuff.
Eventually I graduated to more professional tricks. Most of which were purchased from a magic shop hidden away in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Well, I say they were professional, but they were pretty much crap as well. You'd get a plastic baggy with some kind of prop inside that came with instructions mimeographed on colored paper. Perhaps tons of practice would make the investment pay off down the road, but I guess I wasn't patient enough.
Eventually my obsession with performing magic died out (as most obsessions do) and I went on to whatever was next. I still enjoyed watching magic though.
At least I did until Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed started airing in 1997. It revealed how all the most famous tricks were done and all the magic kind of died after that.
But magic was always in the back of my mind. Whether it was seeing a Penn & Teller show in Las Vegas or seeing their television show Fool Us... or watching shows like Deception (now canceled) which had magic at its core... there was always something magical going on somewhere.
The latest is a Netflix show from Justin Willman called Magic for Humans which is pretty great...
Another show on Netflix that approaches magic from an entirely different angle? Magicians: Life in the Impossible. It's actually a bit depressing, but interesting as well...
What I really need right now is not magic... it's some kind of miracle to save us from all this smoke. Two weeks of feeling sick and not being able to sleep is more than enough.