We’re back!

Blogging is a lot like dieting: one starts with the best of intentions but it is easy to fall off the track. There are simply too many distractions.

Fortunately for me, it wasn’t the chocolate cake. We’ve just been busy with many projects.

We’ve been working with the fine cast and crew at the Shaw Festival to develop a new illusion for A Touch of Venus, a musical written by Kurt Weil, Ogden Nash and S.J. Perelman. To crib from an old Penn & Teller testimonial – one that I believe they wrote about themselves – the musical can best be described as zany, brainy, marvelous and mad.  I don’t want to spoil the illusion by giving you too much information. Suffice to say, the team put lots of time into it, more than most people would ever imagine, which is the case with all great magic, and the results show. They have created a wonderful grace note to a fun-filled theatrical outing.

We’re also just back from Chicago where we hosted, as Artistic Director of Magicana, the 41st Annual Magic Collectors Weekend. Although we have produced many shows and conferences over the years, this was our first for the Magic Collectors Association. Fortunately, we had a crackerjack team, led by Julie Eng, Executive Director of Magicana, ensure that everything ran smoothly. There were many highlights – the presentation by Guests of Honor George Daily and Mike Caveney on their acquisition of Egyptian Hall, the presentations by Diego Domingo and Gary Hunt on “finding your man”, and a heartfelt presentation by Walter Blaney of his famous levitation. Walter, now 82, informed the group that he was performing the levitation for the last time. Julie Eng was his floatee. It was a beautiful illusion performed by a real gentleman. All delegates felt enriched by his stories and presence.

Finally, we’re now gearing up for Luminato, Toronto’s festival of creativity and the arts.  As you know, Magicana is producing “Masters of Magic” with Juan Tamariz, Max Maven, Mac King and Bob Sheets. Advance sales have been very strong. So much so, that Juan’s Sunday afternoon show is now going to be performed in English. Originally he was going to perform the first show in Spanish, the second in English, and the third in French. Tickets disappeared so quickly for the English-only performance, however, that the Festival asked for Juan to change the French-language show to a second English-only performance to accommodate the demand.

Many other exciting projects are in the works, and we will report on them shortly.


It’s Amazing

I find it amazing.

I find it amazing how my interest in magic crosses into so many fields – performing, speaking, writing, consulting, publishing – and now, fonts.  Yes, fonts.

In 2007-2008, I had the privilege of working with Mike Caveney and Michael Albright on Revelation, Dai Vernon’s magnum opus on The Expert At The Card Table.

Publishing any book is gratifying. This one, however, was particularly so. It combined superb commentary (Vernon), exquisite design (Albright), and artful bookmaking (Caveney) in a form that is both a joy to read and a pleasure to hold.

I am pleased to report that another by-product of that project has now just come to market: a font designed by Andrew Leman as an homage to Dai Vernon.

In addition to being the most influential magician of the 20th century, Vernon was a skilled draftsman and artist. His handwriting, particularly as expressed in the 1920s and 1930s, was unique.

Albright wanted to incorporate Vernon’s styling in some of the headers in Revelation. His search led him to Andrew Leman who, by sheer coincidence, had been developing a font with similar attributes. Andrew was completely unaware of Vernon and his work.

Albright brought me into the equation, and I sent Andrew samples of Vernon’s handwriting as expressed in his private notebooks and letters so that he could refine his own work and incorporate some of Vernon’s calligraphic flourishes into it. I was also able to arrange for Andrew to meet Dr. Gene Matsuura.

Dr. Matsuura provided Andrew with additional samples of Vernon’s handwriting from his own collection. Fittingly, in June 2008 Andrew scanned Vernon’s original notebooks in the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel, in downtown Los Angeles.

It is one thing to inventory the design of letters; it is another have them dovetail together. Andrew did a superb job. He comments, “Fonts, like movies and radio plays and all other creative endeavors, are never finished, just released.”

You can check out his release here.

I’m sure that Vernon would find it equally amazing.