Wednesday, August 17, 2005


My brother was cremated today. I don't think he expressed a preference so my youngest brother made the decision. He seems partial to cremation, for reasons we will not explore. None of us are particularly religious (some of us less particularly than others...) so there was no formal service.

There are loose plans to gather some time in the future and either reminisce or curse him soundly, depending on the mood of the day and the amount of alcohol involved. I'm in the midst of an internal debate as to whether I'd attend such a gathering.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A waste

One of my younger brothers died yesterday. He took his own life. Apparently he hooked a hose to the tailpipe of his cab, ran it through the driver's side window and met oblivion. If he arranged it like he did the rest of his life there were probably drugs involved.

I don't believe in God, Jesus, life after death or that Jonathan Edward is anything other than a slimeball scam artist who takes advantage of people at their most vulnerable, so I don't think he's in "a better place." I think he's dead. Gone. Finis. Kaput.

People tell me I'm smart. He had an IQ that was off scale. Drugs took care of that, not by decreasing his intelligence per se but by killing his motivation. He stopped breathing yesterday but he effectively died a long time ago.

Anyone who says marijuana is harmless is going to get a fierce argument from me. In fact, who I'd really like the argument to be with is my brother. I'll take whoever says that and put them in the coffin with his decomposing corpse. They can tell him how harmless it is.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Caving in to pressure

Just for my favorite niece, I've opened up comments on the blog. What can I say? I have a weakness for cuteness.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I never thought this tunnel would be so long

I'm on a couple of magic message boards. On several of them people have complained about the Criss Angel (or "Chris", or "Cris" or "Angle") specials because on several of them - the helicopter fishhook suspension, for example - he does things that aren't magic.


Darren Romeo sings in his magic act. Should we criticize him? Goldfinger and Dove dance. Is that wrong? Arguably the most famous name in magic, Houdini, mostly did escapes, not magic.

I would also bet that most of the people offering up the criticism of Criss/Cris/Chris Angel/Angle also do the odd balloon animal or bit of juggling. But again, it's always the other guy that's wrong, isn't it?

I found some things I didn't care for on the two Krissss Anjul shows I watched, but bashing him because he did things that weren't magic? Come on. He didn't sign a pact with you, me or anyone that said, "I will do magician's tricks and only magician's tricks, so help me [insert your favorite demon here]."

Shows with only one thematic element have no texture. Fault Mr. Ainchel for many things, but at least he has vision.

It astounds me that in a pursuit that should attract creative types and stimulate the mind as much as magic should, that so many of us suffer from constipation of the imagination.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Tunnel vision, pt. 2

Many magicians (and I'm being generous with the term...) bemoan magic's standing among the arts. They want it to be taken as seriously as film or writing or dance or music. Ask them to quit wearing the same tuxedo they've been wearing for 25 years, though, and using the same stolen lines they've been using even longer, and you'll get variations on, "But the audience loves me!" It's always the other guy who is holding magic back. Me, I'm doing the classics.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Tunnel vision

I'm about a fourth of the way through the latest Harry Potter book. I'm a fan: I think Ms. Rowling's a good writer who deserves all the perks that have come her way. I'm hesitant to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon vis a vis magic routining, though. Because that's what it is - a bandwagon.

Magicians have tunnel vision when it comes to putting together magic routines. They do magic about magic. Our "stories" are about finding cards or producing birds or pulling middles out of vacuously smiling girls because, well, because we can.

Every now and then someone gets "creative" and notices that the Harry Potter books and movies have the word "magic" in them, so there must be a tie-in to that stuff we do. So the next time that ever-so-creative individual does a mathematical card trick he doesn't call them cards, he calls them house-elves and poof! a new routine is born! (The really creative ones also notice there are wizards and such in the Tolkein books/movies so the terms they steal and use incorrectly come from those sources.)

Imagine if all movies referenced movies, or all songs were about music. How incredibly boring, just like most magic! The movies I love are about universal themes: love, loss, death, betrayal, redemption. For that matter, so are the Tolkein and Rowling books. But in our narrow focus we don't want to touch it, or don't know how, unless it explicitly says "magic."

Magic is just a vehicle. It is our song, our movie, our book, our dance. It is a means of expression, a way to tell a story. If the story you want to tell is, "I can do silly little inbred things that may fool you if you don't think about them for too long," fine. My ambition is to tell greater stories than that.