Remembering Ricky Jay

I published a note on the magician Ricky Jay ten years ago and I’m sorry to say that he died two days ago.

Ricky Jay, Gifted Magician, Actor and Author, Is Dead at 70

Few would take issue with the fact that Ricky Jay was the greatest sleight of hand magician of all time. He was not only a great magician but he was a great historian and story-teller and his magic was usually accompanied by stories of the great magicians of yesteryear who invented the tricks he was doing.

Here’s the full David Mamet piece: Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants:

You can find out takes of this performance on YouTube with individual tricks in it as well.

I’ve been a fan of Ricky Jay’s for a long time and I’m going to miss him.

Penn & Teller Burn a Flag in the White House

The magicians, Penn & Teller Burn a Flag in the White House. This is an outtake from the television series, The West Wing which was on the air from 1999 through 2006. If you watch the entire thing, right up until the end, you’ll understand how a surface understanding of the American bill of rights isn’t enough. It’s brilliant writing by Aaron Sorkin and no doubt others.

This outtake is circulating because Donald Trump has stated that Americans who burn the American flag should have their citizenship revoked, stepping on the first amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression, and the US Supreme Court has stated that that includes flag burning.

This has been an interesting and well-studied legal matter my entire life and it came to a head during the Vietnam War protests in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Someone assuming the highest office in the US ought to have at least considered this but it seems that Donald Trump has not, or, if he has, believes that the President can sidestep the US Constitution.

These are the kinds of things that are frightening many Americans about our current political situation.

Teller explains sleight of hand

Teller, of Penn & Teller explains two of the psychological tricks behind two slight of hand illusions. He uses a routine to do it and amazingly, as he uncovers the tricks he uses them in plain sight and we still can’t figure out how the heck he’s doing it.

This is pure genius, it really is. Magic like this is performance art, theater, and illusion all rolled into one. Teller is a a master of it.

Turn up the sound to hear him clearly, it’s worth it to hear the dialog.