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All Right, All Right!

I Want To Believe It's Magic

We saw The Illusionist yesterday, a new movie starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel. It's a lost-love-found and bad-guys-subverted-in-clever-ways plot, with elements of The Shawshank Redemption and The Usual Suspects. The acting is excellent, the costumes gorgeous, the cinematography perfect.

But that's not why I loved it. I loved it for the magic.

I know a little bit about magic -- the magic of sleight-of-hand manipulation, the magic of big illusions. I can do a bad rendition of The French Drop, which is one of the most basic sleight-of-hand tricks you can do. I can pull a quarter out of your ear, but it works best on little kids who don't know what I'm doing.

When you go to a magic shop, you don't pay for the prop; you pay for the knowledge, the secret behind the trick. I bought a few little magic tricks to add to my clown repertoire -- a floating cane, a rope that changes color -- but I never got very good at doing them. And I was far too lazy to become a good sleight artist.

I never lost my love of magic, though. Sleight-of-hand is my favorite. Up close and personal, no machinery but the human hand and the art of misdirection. I love watching it. I love being amazed by it. I don't want to know the answer.

I love the great magicians. I wish I could have seen Houdini. I have seen David Copperfield and Ricky Jay and Penn and Teller live. David Copperfield did great, great illusions. During the finale of his show, he made it snow throughout the arena. Ricky Jay (and his 52 assistants) did mindboggling card manipulation, from guessing the card you had in your hand to completely controlling the outcome of a poker hand. Penn and Teller, although they do tell you how some things are done, keep enough unknown to send you away shaking your head.

So the illusions in the film grabbed me and didn't let me go. I don't even care if some were CGI and special effects. I loved it anyway.

Maybe because I prefer to believe in magic.

PS: The haircut's great! And I apologize to everyone who has the helmet cut or the triangular sideburns. It's not that I don't like them -- I don't like them on me. I love them on you!