Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Greatest Living Magicians

I am something of a amateur magician (more emphasis on the amateur than the magician part), and so I love to watch magic. I still feel like a little kid when I see a new trick for the first time, and that sense wonder is one of my favorite feelings. So for this week's top five, I'm going to be listing those whom I think are the

Top Five Greatest Living Magicians

(Yes, I know that this list is horribly skewed toward Mentalists. I like Mentalism. So there.)

1. Max Maven

You may have never heard of this guy because he does the corporate circuit and only rarely does a show for a public audience. If you happen to work for a company that's willing to shell out the big bucks for one of the most highly paid men in the business, you may get the chance to see Max at a corporate event. However, back in the 80s and 90s he made a lot of television appearances and even had his own TV show for a short time. One thing that makes him so great is that he not only does his own show, but has created over 1700 effects for the magic community. Have you ever seen David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy, Doug Henning, Penn and Teller or Lance Burton? If so, you've probably seen his work in action. Orson Welles called him "the most original mind in magic". He is also one of the world's foremost experts on magic history (along with Ricky Jay) and has been an adviser for over a hundred TV shows. In addition to magic, he has been a successful radio announcer, graphic designer, author, pianist, teacher, singer, actor, lecturer, screenwriter, composer, advertising consultant, and chef. Add this to the fact that no one else looks like Max Maven,and you've got a unique and brilliant performer.

A sample of his stage show

2. Richard Osterlind

Richard Osterlind is a class act. Like Max Maven, he only does corporate shows, so you're unlikely to ever see him in the news or on TV. However, he has probably done more than any other man in recent years to progress the sub-genre of magic known as mentalism. He has created countless effects and some of the most definitive instructional videos for professional and amateur magicians everywhere. His thinking is nothing short of brilliant. This is, incidentally, why he recently returned from a 2 week trip to France, and regularly travels the world from Beijing to Paris to Monte Carlo. He may very well be the most in demand corporate magician out there. A bonus for me is also the fact that he is a godly Christian who is never ashamed to share his faith.

A sample from one of his instructional videos
A sample from another instructional video.

3. Derren Brown

This is the first magician on my list who is in the public eye. Derren is a huge celebrity in Britain and has made a few shows in America as well. He is known for his Bafta winning TV shows and his critically acclaimed stage shows. Derren has completely retooled mentalism for the 21st century with an entirely new schtick. He is witty, intelligent and hilarious. Fortunately for us Americans, his shows can almost all be seen on YouTube. below are the links for the first parts of three of his stage shows. Watch a couple of minutes and you'll see why he's so awesome. In fact, after one video is over, just click on the next part and keep going till you've watched all three shows all the way through. I'll see you in about 6 hours.

(language warning on all of Derren's live shows)

First part of "Enigma"
First part of "Evening of Wonders"
First part of "Something Wicked This Way Comes"

4. David Blaine

David Blaine brought integrity back to TV magic. Rather than performing huge stage shows with tons of special effects and expensive equipment, Blaine took to the streets with a camcorder and proceeded to blow the minds of countless innocent bystanders. I've got a friend who still insists that he has some sort of demonic powers. The great thing about David Blaine is that unlike some "street magic" performers (I'm looking at you Criss Angel), he doesn't rely on tons of after-the-fact camera editing or on paid stooges to make his tricks work. He's just that good.

David Blaine on the Streets (language warning)

5. David Copperfield

If you grew up in the 90s, then you know David Copperfield. He introduced a whole generation to magic through his TV specials and tours. I loved him as a kid and I still love to go back and watch videos of him doing his thing as only David Copperfield can.

The Death Saw Trick!!!
And, on a lighter note, some rope magic.

Honorable Mentions: Lance Burton, The Amazing Kreskin, Marc Salem


Mom said…
Hey! I think you do a pretty good job with your magic tricks. Remember the magic kit you got for Christmas one year? You were so excited!
Rick said…
Harry Blackstone, Jr.!!!! And Santa Claus wrote on it himself!
Erica said…
We liked that magic kit so much we named a kitten after it. XD

On the subject of magicians, did you know Houdini claimed he was tied up and thrown into the Great Pyramid by ruffians and had to escape? He had Lovecraft ghostwrite the story for Weird Tales.

Being Lovecraft, the story also involves Houdini fainting several times (Houdini was not happy with that) and running into an undead mummy cult worshipping the Sphinx. =D
Mom said…
You do remember! We never did find out who wrote your name on the box. Kinda your!