October 16

Mint Collection Blank Deck!

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Due to a random printing error, I have a deck of cards that can not be bought anywhere else in the world…

A Mint Collection Blank Deck

The backs have the exact same design as a usual Mint Collection Raspberry Deck, but the faces are completely blank.

There are many tricks that utilise one or more blank cards and so if you love the Mint Collection Deck, then you need to include a few of these cards in your collection.

NOTE: There is only one deck like this in existence in the world, and so once all the cards are sold, there will not be another chance to get them.

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COST:

5 blank cards for only $10!

FREE INTERNATIONAL DELIVERY! 

If you are interested, please contact Simon Camilleri at

hello@simoncamilleri.com

This is so you can check availability and provide your mailing address.

If you have already done that and you are simply looking to pay,

CLICK HERE TO PAY

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BUT WAIT!! THERE’S MORE!

If you have a Mint Collection deck you will know there is a double-backer card included.

Because of the printing error, that means that I have one (yes, just one) blank-backed Joker.

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This is such a rare card, I will be taking offers for it.

Please email me with your offer and I will take the first offer that seems reasonable.

Send your offer to:

hello@simoncamilleri.com

Remember! Once these cards are gone, they are gone!

So first in best dressed!

 

 

  (487)

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July 19

The Gift of Magic

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Magicians love magic for all sorts of reasons. Sure we all love that feeling of being able to amaze, impress and entertain, but magicians are not just in it for themselves and the stroking of their ego. Most of the magicians I have met love magic not simply for what they get out of it, but for how they use it to give something to others. As I meet more and more magicians, I have enjoyed discovering that different magicians like to give different things. There was one magician that used a dji mavic pro which is a drone with really awesome features. Some like to give their audiences a moment of pure wonder, where they lose a sense of what is real or what is logical and they return to that childlike state where anything is possible. Some go the other direction and present their magic as a sort of logic puzzle, challenging their audiences to try to work out how the illusion is accomplished.

nickSome magicians, like my friend Nick Kesidis, are fast and funny, displaying their magic with high energy and incredible skill and slight of hand. With this sort of magic, there is a sense that you know that you are missing something but that the magician is being too fast and clever for you to catch what they are doing. A magician like Nick pulls this off without making you feel like a fool, by being likeable and inviting. This sort of magic is more about impressing your audience and leaving them smiling and shaking their head with amazement, rather than filling them with magical wonder.

Another magician friend of mine, Simon Coronel, is different. Instead of giving his audience a 45 minute rollercoaster ride of an experience, he looks to give moments. His illusions are more individual and have more patter as they build up to a moment of amazement. He often makes the comment through his shows that your mind is being blown. That’s what he loves to give. He creates impossible objects like a rubik’s cube in a bottle or a printed image of a spoon that seems to bend before your eyes. Despite his ability to create these magical moments, he also does not try to convince you that he possesses any real magical powers, but rather that he is trying to capture your imagination and give you a mind blowing moment of illusion.

There are magicians who try to convince you that they really are magical, but I find they are not as interesting or popular. At least, not as much as they used to be. We live in a very cynical age and our society (especially in Australia) is not as impressed by someone who claims supernatural abilities. Even with mentalism magic, where the magician claims to read the spectator’s mind, people are very skeptical. Most magicians I know don’t fight this social trend though – they use it. Knowing their audiences are skeptical, they play off that. They openly and honestly accept the audience’s beginning premise that they are not really magical, and then they go and do something that totally defies that premise. They give the audience the opportunity to doubt their own scepticism, or at least they give their audience a puzzle that can’t be solved by their sceptical minds.

As an audience member of a magic show, we go into this relationship willingly. We want to know how it is done, but we also want to be fooled. We want to feel clever by working it out, but we also want to feel humbled by the world of the unknown. Some audience members truly do want to believe in magic, but nowadays, I think they are not the majority. Most simply want to be entertained by something amazing. Like going to a movie about talking apes taking over the world (guess what I’m going to see tonight?), we know there’s a lot of CGI special effects, but we want to lose ourselves in the magic of it all.


Thinking about all this and observing different magicians, has led me to reflect on what sort of magic I am interested in. As a magician, what do I want to give my audience? Wonder? Amazement? A puzzle? A laugh? Do I want them to feel frustrated? Impressed? Blown away? In awe? Confused? Amused?

As I have contemplated this, I have thought about what tricks I gravitate to. Not simply what tricks I enjoy watching, but also what tricks I naturally like to develop myself. What I have observed is that many of my original magic routines involve a rather silly premise. I often begin my tricks by making a ridiculous claim, which is obviously too silly to be believable and yet has an element of realism to it. A perfect example of this is my “Human Microscale” trick, where I claim to be able to detect the minute difference between the weight of each card. Check it out below if you haven’t seen it. It’s not a very sophisticated trick, but it’s still a bit of fun…

 

A trick like this is not supposed to make you believe in magic. The premise is supposed to be ridiculous. But on the other hand, it’s not too ridiculous, like claiming I have supernatural powers. It’s just enough for a small part of your brain to think, “Yeah… I could see how that might work” while the rest of your brain is going, “What? That’s stupid!” When I’m doing tricks like this, I love the look on people’s faces as I explain the premise. Some just laugh at the absurdity of it all, but others have this sceptical smirk as if they are saying, “Really Simon? Do you really believe you can do that?” I love that! It shows that I have achieved what I want. You see, I don’t want them to think that what I am claiming is possible, no matter how seriously I explain the idea. I want them to think it’s ridiculous. I want their natural, healthy scepticism. It makes it all the more fun, when I actually pull it off.

You see, when something impossible happens in a magical presentation, our brains are looking for a way out – a way to understand what just took place. Our modern sceptical brains are committed to not concluding that real magic just took place, so we look for the next best explanation. The principle of “Occam’s Razor” in philosophy says that when you have to choose between explanations, the simplest one is the most likely. So what is the most likely explanation in magic? Well, if you don’t give your audience an explanation (even if it is ridiculous) what they most likely will just think is “I missed something there” or “Wow! What an impressive magician!” Now if that’s your goal, then that’s fine! For me though, I like the idea that the brain is left battling with itself. That small part of the brain that believed my ridiculous premise is vindicated and laughs at the rest of the Memory-Puzzle-Brain-300x300sceptical brain saying, “See! I told you it could work!” while the rest of the brain is saying (as some of my friends actually do say) “Nup. I got nuthin’!” When there’s no logical explanation, the brain gravitates to the next best thing, which in my tricks is the ridiculous premise I opened the presentation with. The brain is then left fighting with itself, between the sceptical part that knows it’s right and that small part that found the premise believable.

This for me, is the sort of magical experience I want to give people. It sound weird when I articulate it, but I think it comes down to my interest in philosophy, neuroscience, belief systems and yes, even faith. You see, I am a Christian, and a fairly traditional one at that – in that I believe in God and the Bible and the deity or Jesus and the resurrection and the afterlife. I believe in lots of the things a modern sceptical society find doubtful. But I also like to challenge myself on why I believe those things. I like being challenged on my beliefs and being forced that have to justify or articulate them. I also know that most people – religious or not – begin with premises that rule out possibilities and we often go to the explanation that we have been told to believe or that we find the simplest. I like to explore that in my own mind and so I guess the sort of magic I like is the sort that plays with some of those ideas.

Magic is a wonderful, creative and entertaining art form. It is full of the visual spectacle of juggling, the humour of stand up, the curiosity of an optical illusion, the puzzle of a Sudoku, the wonder of CGI special effects and the amazement of a miracle. I look forward to continue on my creative journey in this art form – learning from other magicians and thinking about not only what I get from magic, but also what I love to give.
Write in the comments below what sort of magic you are interested in – whether you be a magician or just a spectator.

 

  (2014)

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July 10

Memorisation & The Baker/baker Principle


I have always had a great interest in memory and how the brain works. This is partly due to my discovery at a young age that people sometimes did feats of memorisation as a sort of magic trick, but it is also due to my horrible memory. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can’t remember names, am always forgetting details and am very embarrassed by this flaw that effects me nearly every day. If you don’t know me, you might think that I have an amazing memory from the fact that I can remember whole books of the Bible (I toured a performance of “Philippians” in 2011) and I can do impressive tricks like the one in the video below.

In the video, I recall 25 random words and am able to tell you exactly which word is at which number on the list in any order I am required to.

I then go on to explain the method I use and how you can use it yourself. Enjoy.

 

The philosophy behind it is called the Baker/Baker principle, which I learnt from a fascinating TED talk that I watched recently. I will also include that below. (If there is nothing below, click HERE to see the TED talk)

The basic idea is that if you asked one person to remember a man named “Baker” and you asked another person to remember a man who is a baker, the person trying to remember the name will forget more easily than the other person. The reason is because the name “Baker” means nothing, whereas the profession “baker” is quite meaningful to us.

The secret to seemingly amazing feats of memorisation is to be able to turn forgettable facts into meaningful memories – to turn “Baker” into a baker.

 

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November 18

Corn is the magic vegetable.

I love corn.

You can have corn for every single meal.

You can have cornflakes for breakfast, or if you want a hot brekkie, you can have corn fritters.

For lunch you can have cold corn in a salad, corn cakes (like rice cakes) or some warm corn bread.

For dinner, the options are endless, with cream of corn soup, cornflake encrusted chicken, frozen corn chucked into your pasta sauce, or just good ol’ corn on the cob.

And then after dinner, you can enjoy corn chips with salsa, candied corn or some delicious popcorn.

Corn can be dried, steamed, baked, roasted, barbecued, boiled, pureed, ground, sweetened, popped or flattened. It can be added to anything, savoury or sweet and it can be eaten in any way, hot or cold.

I love corn.

I love to put a corn holder in each end of a freshly steamed cob and bite into its juicy sweet flesh enjoying every last kernel, maybe with a small blob of butter melting into it.

It’s the only vegetable I can think of that you can hold like that. It gives you the same satisfaction you get from chomping into a chicken leg or some barbecued ribs.

It may even save the world with the ability to use the ethanol they can get from it as an alternative to fossil fuel. On  the Fuel Corn website they describe it as “Nature’s Pure, Perfect Fuel”. This is the wrap they give corn…

Corn may be nature’s only perfect fuel.  It produces oxygen as it grows and needs no special processing or pelletizing before use.  It is nature’s perfect pellet fuel.   A near pure food and pure fuel, corn burns virtually smoke free, odor free, ash free, and pollutant free.  It produces no dangerous creosote in your vent pipes, no waste product, and it requires no chimney.

Burn corn and you emit no more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than if it were left in the field to decay or fed to animals.  Using a corn stove or furnace will produce the very same three things that you produce every day as you breathe out: carbon dioxide, moisture, and HEAT!  (Lots of heat in this case!)  If everyone would burn corn rather than wood, the blue-gray haze of wood smoke over our neighborhoods every winter morning would be gone! I have heard that the best pellet stove sytems are built specifically to reduce their emissions, if you have the dollars to spend on a green version of wood burning, please do! Other great advantages of corn are that it is inexpensive and plentiful.

and so it goes on.

Anyway, that’s my quick blog on how I love corn.

If you would like to learn more about corn (as I’m sure you do!), go to the Wikipedea article and you will only be more convinced that corn is the magic vegetable.

Or if you want recipes on corn, here is a website of 87 of the best corn recipes.

Or if you want to find out about how they put corn in everything from toothpaste to crayons, click here to go to the official corn website.

I love corn.

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