2016 November

Astonishing Mike Pisciotta Wows SAM 206 in November

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img_1611By R.A. Dyer

Vanishing coins and fantastic card effects — SAM 206 guest lecturer Mike Pisciotta delivered those marvels and more during the club’s November meet-up.

Pisciotta, the Magic Castle Close-Up Magician of the Year in 2015, bartends and performs miracles, nightly, at the Castle’s Hat & Hare pub. He popped into Austin on Nov. 16 as part of his Southern Lecture Tour.

Although astonishing to witness, Mike’s close-up effects nonetheless appear to be moderately easy to master for a hobbyist. His coin work, in particular, seemed to be equal parts deceptive and simple.

“Great lecture,” said one attendee. “The effects were amazing. Loved the coins.”

In Devil Makes Three, Mike repeatedly caused coins to melt away from one hand, and then appear in the other.  Mike performed the effect simply, slowly and seemingly fairly. It also was presented as a sort of adult sucker trick, that is — Mike provided the audience with a seemingly logical solution to the miracle, but the solution turns out to be a red herring.

Mike also demonstrated an impromptu rising card effect, and another effect in which a selected card appeared sandwiched between two others in a boxed and shuffled deck.

Pisciotta patiently explained each effect and the basis for his performance decisions. He also shared a bit of his philosophy as an artist.

Besides being named as the Castle’s Close-Up Magician of the Year during 2015, Mike also was featured on the Speakeasies episode of Travel Channel’s Best Bars in America,

About 30 magicians, a mixture of both professionals and amateurs, attended the lecture. Mike’s appearance also attracted several new members to SAM 206.

The new 2017 board also was elected during the November meeting. They are Dan Page, President; Jake Dyer, Vice President; Albert Lucio, Vice President; Will Mannis, Sergeant-at-Arms; and Tammy Dietz, Treasurer. The secretary position for 2017  remains open.

Our October Meeting: Paranormal Entertainment

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saul-ravencraft-at-october-2016-sam-meetingGuest Lecture by Chris Walden/Saul Ravencraft

Reported by Kent Cummins

Of course there were 13 people at the October meeting of SAM Assembly 206!

Members and guests were treated to a trip down the rabbit hole with Chris Walden and his alter ego, Saul Ravencraft, in a fascinating two-hour session on the subject of “Paranormal Entertainment.”

Chris began by introducing us to Saul Ravencraft, who spoke about some of the attractions at Austin’s Museum of the Weird…including the true story of Emily, who haunted the museum until Saul held a séance…well, if you don’t know the story, you need to visit the museum!

Saul then treated us to three of his signature routines which were both mystifying and entertaining. Chris later said that Saul had done these routines more than a thousand times, and it showed.

saul-ravencraft-with-the-boxFirst was “The Box,” in which an audience member makes a connection by selecting a card with an artifact to see if it matches the artifact in the box. After much byplay, the connection was made by Paprika. Saul then did a quick palm reading of everyone in the room, explaining the differences between those who were Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. (I am apparently Fire.)

But the highlight of the performance was definitely “Mystery Trip,” an impossible revelation of a place that Jason was only thinking of. The results went beyond those that could have been achieved simply be a magician’s trick. (Ask anyone who was there about “Prague!“)

Saul took his bow, and then Chris Walden took over with the caveat: “I am not going to try to convince you of anything. Everything I tell you will be through my own unique lens, based on my experiences.” Chris then shared some of those experiences.

“What in the world does it mean to be entertained?” Chris asked the audience, resulting in a long list of activities that might qualify as entertainment for someone. Chris then explained his concept of “Paranormal Entertainment,” which he said must be experiential to be effective. He used his experience in both the realms of traditional magic and paranormal entertainment to contrast the styles and results of each.

Chris explained that he felt that often the results were bigger than just a trick, the effect itself, or a story.

Chris then broke down Saul’s performance, bit by bit, explaining not just how each bit was done, but why it was done the way it was. “The Box” turned out to be inspired by Ed Solomon, based on a trick by Aldo Colombini! The Palm Reading was just that: classic palm reading (no tricks). And the Mystery Trip…well, you had to be there.

Finally, Chris shared his thoughts and experiences in “doing it for real,” admitting that his search as a skeptic had led him to some truly unusual places.

Everyone who attended also got an extensive bibliography of relevant publications.