The Hand is Quicker Than the Eye
I went to the Magic Castle for lunch today with Mark Evanier, who's been a member there for almost 35 years. They have a pretty nice buffet, and yes, we made our food disappear. It felt like going to a family reunion at the Evanier household, though, since about every third person there knew him and came by to say hello. Mark even knew the magician we went to see, and had gotten him on the show That's Incredible years before, when Mark worked on the show.
Actually, the performer Richard Turner isn't precisely a magician, but is really more a self-described card shark. (He says in his act, “Some people think they can learn how to do this by practicing for an easy 5 to 10…years. You can’t. I’ve been doing this for 50 years, since I was a little kid.” He then goes on to explain that he initially practiced for 20 hours a day (okay, that's what he says) seven days a week for 26 years. And adds, "No, I wasn't in prison." But even if that's an exaggeration, you have to think it's not by much, because it shows. He's quite stunning. And it's all the more stunning when you know that he's legally blind. There might be an occasional "trick" in his arsenal, but mostly it's just a display of card manipulation and a lot of unearthly dexterityl, not illusion. The room was packed (as was the show before us), and everyone are magicians (or their guests, like me), because Mark says that everyone at the Magic Castle are in awe of him.
He always calls two women from the audience to sit on either side of the table and help during the act – and if there had been members of the National Organization of Women there in the audience, they would have left running out of the room in embarrassment. They were among the stupidest people you could want. One of them had what seemed to be difficulty adding up the numbers on the cards whenever there was a Blackjack trick. And the other never quite grasped the concept of shuffling and handing over cards to him. And it seemed like it wasn't until about three-quarters of the way through that she figured but -- maybe -- that he was blind. (All the times he asked, "Are the cards face-up or not?" apparently wasn't a giveaway...)
But still, the performance was remarkable. Here’s a video of him, oddly enough as it happens, several years ago at the Magic Castle.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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