Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was "Time". The posts are of a more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical bent. No time management tips in this theme, but stuff intended to make you think.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Big Magic Show of Life



         Maybe this blog post will be committing a grave breach of trust to the magic profession, but I never took any official magician's code swearing to keep secrecy.  Besides what I'm going to reveal is something that was obvious to whatever audience member was looking at it--that is if anyone actually saw it.  However this is not so much a story about a great magician's performance of a specific trick as it is an allegory. 

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...
Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, also known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Masters of Deception and Misdirection

        Years ago I went to see a stage production of a famous magician who was on tour with his wife and a sizable cast of performers and stage crew.  Prior to seeing the show a magician friend of mine told me to watch one particular aspect of an illusion which would blatantly expose how the trick was done right in plain sight of the audience.  The trick featured the vanishing of a large cage with a large duck in it.   When the time came for the vanishing duck routine, I carefully watched as I had been instructed.

         A farm setting appeared on stage complete with bales of hay and farm implements.  The magician and his wife introduced the duck and put it in an ornate cage.  All around were dancers dressed in straw hats and overalls circling and leaping about in a frenzied choreographed routine as lively hoedown music was played by a live orchestra.  As the dancers pranced and whirled about, the magician placed the duck cage into another box.  Suddenly one of the dancers stage left took a spectacular fall throwing the other dancers into a confused panic.  The magician and his wife displayed alarm as they moved to see if the dancer was okay.  Fortunately, the dancer leaped back up dusting himself off and signaled in a comic way that all was okay.  The audience breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Without too much of a break in the action, the magician quickly collapsed the box surrounding the cage, but the cage with the duck had vanished!

      Though it was difficult for me not to be distracted by the dancer's spill and the confusion that ensued, I instead kept my eyes on the box covering the duck cage.  Simultaneous with the dancer's fall, I saw the duck cage yanked off  stage right by a rope that had been attached to it.  The cage slid quickly across the stage into the wings. Right there for all to see.  But so much was happening on the stage that it would be unlikely that anyone would notice unless they were specifically looking like I was doing.

         Performance magic is about confusion and distraction. It can also be about subtle misdirection. There are magicians all around us in our everyday lives.  They are on television or they are people we encounter in the course of the day.  Sometimes there is so much going on that we miss little details in life.  Those details usually can explain everything, but they can be so mundane.  It's so much more entertaining to watch the spectacle of all that is going on and to believe that the magic is real.  Or if not magic, then conspiracies or some other fanciful explanation to all that goes on.

         What mystifies you most about the world?    How do you feel when you've been fooled and don't know how the trick was done?   Is magic more apt to evoke a smile from you or a pouty scowl?





     

42 comments:

  1. This waas great to read Arlee, it goes to show if we look at everything that is going on around us we actually miss what is going on in our own lives. A lesson to be learned I suppose.
    Happy week-end.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, we are so dazzled by the gewgaws of life that we miss the real behind the scenes things that are ultimately more important.

      Lee

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  2. It's going to be so easy to do magic with the next generation. Just hold up a phone... they'll forget there is a world.

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    1. Donna, great observation! It's a bit scary to me, but that seems to be the way things are in our time. Of course since the phones have cameras on them people can go back to look at things if they've taken video, but even then they'll probably focus on whatever it was that caught their attention the first time.

      Lee

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  3. Very cool that you caught that.

    Sometimes I'll watch a movie a second time and see things that I missed before.

    Happy Weekend and boogie boogie.

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    1. Whisk, if I hadn't been tipped off I'm sure I would have missed the secret that was right in front of us all. In fact, I'd probably had to have watched the stage production many times before catching the vanishing cage on my own and even then I don't know if I would have seen it. The misdirection was more eye-catching than the trick itself.

      Lee

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    2. It's interesting how they do this stuff. And I wonder if someone sitting in the far, far, farrrrrrr back row, would see the misdirection or be focused on the other stuff.

      Thanks for sharing this. Have a great weekend and boogie boogie.

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    3. Whisk, no matter where one was sitting they would likely not have noticed the secret because there was so much happening with the performers on stage. And actually I was sitting kind of far back and I know that I wouldn't have seen the cage sliding away if I hadn't known exactly what to look for.

      Lee

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    4. Interesting. Amazing how they do that.

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  4. That was a good tip and you caught the trick.
    America's Got Talent has highlighted some amazing magicians, ones that really make you wonder how they did it. I know it's all about misdirection, but knowing where to look is always the challenge.

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    1. Alex, usually the misdirection is not as blatant as in the trick I described, but there's always some kind of gimmickry involved.

      Lee

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  5. A truly excellent blog bit, LEE.

    Yes, a good metaphor. And there is misdirection everywhere most of the time. Which can also be called misinformation and disinformation.

    As one example, when a major event occurs (or appears to occur), attention turns to it and away from what would otherwise have been noticed. The name SETH RICH comes to mind as I type these words.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    [Link:) Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

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    1. STMcC, thanks! So many so-called "news" items get thrown out into the arena that it becomes mind muddling. These days it really is a matter of what appears to be happening versus what really is happening. No wonder the news media organizations are losing so much credibility.

      Lee

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  6. Was that "Vince's" Show ... we liked "Gertrude", the Duck and Rusty (the Tiger)... watched the rehearse at Phil's warehouse...
    Never took "Magician's Vow" either... we were already well versed in "misdirection" even back then... A great Holiday Weekend to you and yours, good Sir Arlee...

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    1. Stacey, no I wasn't referring to Vince, but an even bigger name magician whose name you'd recognize, but I prefer not to say here (even though the guy is no longer living). I knew Vince though and well remember rehearsing our own show in the warehouse from 1977 to 1988. It was so damn cold much of the time we were there rehearsing because it was always in February.

      Lee

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    2. Him and "Miss Dolly" (Rusty loved her)... were a fond memory of my youth ... And you are right about the "cold"...

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  7. I still love magic acts, maybe because I had a couple of magic books when I was a kid (given to me by a pretty good magician, actually) that explained how the illusions were done. I would watch the acts for the specific things the books told the budding prestidigitator to do. As Marshall Brodien, a Chicago-area magician used to say in his commercials for "TV Magic Cards," "magic is easy, once you know the secret." I can admire the grace with which they can palm cards, coins, etc. and how simple some of the things are, e.g. tying a knot that, when shaken, unties itself.

    Of course, the magic I don't appreciate is the kind that makes more votes come out of a voting machine than went in...

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    1. John, I visited Marshall's Magic Co. a few times when I was touring with magician Ken Griffin. When I was a kid I also had some magic books, but never really became proficient at performing any of the tricks.

      The tricks can be easy if you know the secret, but a great performing style is the real key to successfully pulling them off. The manipulation does require a great amount of skill that comes through practice. A magician who is a lousy performer can be cringe worthy and no amount of money invested in great magic equipment can overcome poor performance.

      You point out one element of the allegory that I am referring to.

      Lee

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  8. I've never been a huge fan of magic although I find it interesting. I'm always trying to see where the illusion takes place but I never can. I got a Magic Kit for Christmas when I was in the 6th grade. I never mastered any of the tricks.

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    1. JoJo, I think the more one knows about magic and how it is done, the greater appreciation that one has for it. The best audience for a good magician is other magicians. Performance magic is a true entertainment art that many folks don't enjoy because they don't know enough about it.

      Lee

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  9. Today's government magicians are amazing! Look over here--at the scandal surrounding Trump. While you look over there, we can move over some other issues and make them cloudy, like, say Rep. Maxine Waters and allegations of corruption.

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    1. Susan, bingo! That's essentially the kind of allegory that is on my mind. D.C. is like a big magic show where all the magicians are doing tricks at the same time vying for attention. Maxine Waters is in a class of her own--more like the scary magic shows that used to accompany B grade horror flicks back in the 50's and 60's.

      Lee

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  10. A lot of lessons here- focus, situational awareness- and I caught the more subtle way of commenting on current events you adopted here. Well done, Bill Bixby!

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    1. CW, I'm trying to avoid being overly political, but I probably really want to.

      Lee

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  11. What mystifies me most about the world is that there is so much good and magic in it yet evil continues to survive and thrive. The mystery is why one would choose dark over seeing all the beauty... I believe in magic and it always makes me smile. Like producing our son's finance for him for Christmas all the way from Florida to Utah. That was a real magic feat for us. What a great post, Arlee! <3

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    1. Calensariel, thanks for the appreciation. And I'm sure your son appreciated your Christmas feat. There is real beautiful magic all around us if that's what we're truly looking for.

      Lee

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  12. This is a interesting topic.

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    1. Sathwika, thanks for dropping by!

      Lee

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  13. Hi Lee - interesting to read you actually saw the "magic" happening ... our eyes are usually blinded by the smokescreen of lots of goings on ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary, one has to be paying attention and it especially helps to know what to look for.

      Lee

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  14. The thing that mystifies me most about the world is the presence of synchronicity and serendipity...it's almost like magic.

    I love to watch a good magician. I'm one of those awestruck "how did he do that?" people.

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    1. Patricia, whatever one calls it there are many strange and unexpected things that have happened in my life and I'm always amazed when they happen.

      A good magician can make me forget the "how'd he do that?" aspect and just be amazed.

      Lee

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  15. Misdirection is a big deal in magic.

    I'm prone to enjoy the shows, if they're just light and fun. I've seen a few that were darker and I had to walk out. (Conflicts with my beliefs and whatnot.) But the usual street performers who are doing it for fun, that I enjoy.

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    1. J Lenni, I guess it depends on the darker creepier stuff. If we staged I can enjoy it if I'm in the mood for it. I can't remember ever walking out on any performance.

      Lee

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  16. That is an age old trick that all of us have fell prey to at one point or another. I find magic tricks really interesting especially the great ones and I don't mean people who can use some optics like David Copafeel. Nhuck...Nhuck:) I have seen some on discovery where it really amazed me like some of the card tricks. I know it is smoke and mirrors but you have to be so quick and fancy with he fingers to do those tricks.

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    1. Birgit, close-up manipulation can be pretty mind blowing when done by a highly skilled artist. Those guys have put in a lot of practice.

      Lee

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  17. I can't remember the last time I saw a magic trick in person. Actually, I can't remember when I saw a magic trick overall last, but I remember it was Copperfield on TV making something big disappear.

    My favorite guy was Kreskin, and I never figured out how he did the things he did & didn't really care. I loved being entertained, so I didn't pry. You know how I am though; if I'd have cared, I'd have researched it! :-)

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    1. Mitch, TV magic can get away with so much more than what we see in person. It's been a while since I've seen a live magician performing.

      Kreskin goes back a ways. I think I remember seeing him on Merv Griffin and a lot of older TV variety shows. I don't care as much about the trick itself as I care about how well it is performed.

      Lee

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  18. Just 'shows' - we need to be more aware of what goes on behind the scenes ... thanks Arlee!

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    1. Susan S, sadly I think too many people are either caught up in the meaningless shows of mindless entertainment or trying to conjure up their own competing magic show to get attention for whatever it is they're trying to fool others with.

      Lee

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  19. Lee,

    I figured out years ago the skimpy dressed Magician assistants and follies on stage played a huge hand in disguising the how the trick is done. I've tried to watch just the Magician but fail miserably every time to see how he does the trick but it always makes me smile and marvel at a job well done. Thanks for sharing. What fun!

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    1. Cathy, all the assistants weren't lovely skimpy dressed gals either since I also spent a few years assisting magicians and helping with the tricks. Sometimes the magician isn't really doing much at all other than using his showmanship to appear magical.

      Lee

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Lee