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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 21, 2009 / 1 Elul 5769

It's Magic

By Greg Crosby



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The very first time I went to the Hollywood Magic Castle I didn't get in. It was the occasion of my 25th birthday and it was to be a surprise. Cal Howard, a fellow Disney gag writer and friend of mine who knew Milt Larson (co-owner of the Castle with his brother Bill) had arranged the visit for me and my entire family. On the appointed evening I was told to get all dressed up and ask no questions. My mother, sister, brother and girl friend threw me in the car blindfolded and drove me to the Castle - we got as far as the anteroom. They wouldn't let us in because my brother was only 16 at the time and Castle rules state that no minors are allowed.


For a spilt second I toyed with the idea of leaving Brian on the sidewalk outside, but then I thought better of it. My mother wouldn't have liked that. So we all got back into the car, went home and cried.


The two rules that the Magic Castle have always adhered to are the strict dress code and the "no one under twenty-one" rule. Even though I was greatly disappointed that night I think the no minors rule is a good one, as is the dress code. The Magic Castle is really a night club, and kids don't belong in night clubs. And when you dress up you feel special, which is exactly how you should feel when going to a place as special as the Magic Castle. Two good rules I hope they never dispense with.


Since that aborted first visit I have been back several times through the years, and each time it's terrific. For one thing, they actually let me in beyond the anteroom now. This last time I went specifically to see a wonderful magician (it occurs to me that the term "wonderful magician" is redundant. If a magician isn't full of wonder then he isn't doing his job). This particular magician also happens to be family on my wife's side (and if I catch him on my wife's side again I'll brain him). His name is Jamy Ian Swiss.


Jamy is world renowned as a sleight of hand magician. His specialty is close-up card magic, which when done right is probably the most amazing of the magic arts. I always loved magic from the time I was a kid. As a matter of fact, the very first book I ever read was a book on the life of Harry Houdini. I played with doing magic tricks as a boy, like many other kids do. Remember the famous Chinese finger trap, the amazing flipping penny trick, and the ever bewildering plastic King Tut who refuses to lay down in his sarcophagus?


Jamy loved magic as a kid too, but in his case Jamy had the natural talent, acute dexterity, and unwavering determination to stick with it long enough to make himself one of the very best sleight of hand artists in the business.


We had seen Jamy preform in New York at the Rainbow Room a few years ago, his act was a knockout, so I was anxious to see him again at the Castle. We went with friends Lee and Carol Delano. Lee is also a member of the Magic Castle as well as an accomplished actor and comedian who toured with Sid Caeser for many years. So we were surrounded by famous talented people. As a matter of fact, I was the only one there that I didn't know.


In addition to Jamy, we saw some other teriffic magicians, including close-up wizards Rich Cowley and Tony Picasso. Years ago I had the good fortune to see Dai Vernon perform in the Close-up Gallery of the Castle. Vernon was the master of sleight-of-hand close-up magic and revered to this day by professional magicains all over the world. What he could do with a deck of cards was unbelieveable. I saw him work miracles with three cups and three balls.


Harry Houdini often boasted that if he saw a card trick performed three times in a row he would be able to figure it out. Vernon then showed Houdini a trick, where he removed the top card of the deck and placed it in the middle, and then turned over the top card to again reveal the original card. Houdini watched Vernon do the trick seven times, each time insisting that Vernon "do it again". Finally Houdini's wife, and Vernon's friends said, "Face it Houdini, you're fooled." For years afterward, Vernon used the title "The Man Who Fooled Houdini" in his advertisements. Vernon made the Magic Castle his home in the last years of his long life. He was 98 when he died in 1992.


The man who fooled Houdini is gone now, but the Magic Castle still has what it takes to keep audiences fooled night after night. It's a great place to go for dinner, entertainment and a large dose of pure, unadulterated magic. The only catch is, you've got to know a member to get in. But if you do, and if you're over twenty-one and you get all dressed up, well just like magic you'll find yourself in for one heck of an enchanted evening!

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2008, Greg Crosby

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