Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Best Magician in the World

If you fire a cannon anywhere in Vegas, two things are going to happen. First: casino security guys will be all over you in about three seconds. Second: you will hit about six hundred magicians.

Magic is everywhere here. I don't mean the "Route 66" variety of magic. I mean "guys who do tricks" magic. There are at least 7,524 of the 'Dance around the stage while you do an illusion and try to look just like David Copperfield' variety.


There are 2,647 "pick a card...any card" types.

Double yawn.

Then there's Mac King, who you can see most afternoons at Harrah's casino for about twenty-five bucks. (OR you can go to guest services, get a coupon that lets you in for $9.95 and includes a free drink.)

For the first time I lined up after a show with the rest of the audience to shake a performer's hand. (I hate doing this since I am not a groupie...and groupies do stuff like that..and...well...never mind.) I just wanted to tell him that I very much enjoyed his work.

"Hi," he said.

I nod and remember to smile.

"I really enjoyed your show. I've seen you a number of times. You have wonderful material. Wonderful presentation. Great show."

He smiles and shakes my hand. He says something which I don't hear since I am praying that I didn't just sound like some gushing magic dweeb.

"I'd really like to take your picture," I say.

"Sure. I'll do whatever you want," says King.

I am unable to come up with a witty comment so I raise the camera.

"Take off the lens cap first," he says.


I wouldn't be tongue-tied meeting David Copperfield or the Pope. But here's a guy I genuinely respect, a guy who does what I do (comedy magic) and he is the best in the business. Plus he's just a nice guy. I got the picture and declined an offer to have my picture taken with him because that was just a little too groupie-like.

I first saw Mac King when I was just getting into magic. This would be around the early 1990's. I was twelve. (Ahem.) He was at one of the first magic conventions I ever attended in St. Louis and he was precisely in the middle of a long list of acts.

When he came on-stage dressed like a hick in a plaid suit, he had my attention. No black tuxedo? Nary a single sequin? No showy music! No dancing? Not a single appearing cane? No freaking rabbits? This guy oozed different.

And he was funny. Really, really funny. (Producing genuine laughter is a lot tougher than producing a rabbit. Trust me.)

I won't outline his show since I think that's not very cool to do. Suffice it to say that the yellow raincoat thingie is one of the ultimate classics of magic in my is the hand shadow bit which has such a slam-bang surpise finish that the woman beside me spilled her mai tai all over her blouse.

If you find yourself in Vegas one day, avoid the over-priced shows. Take an afternoon to see Mac King, the official winner of the David Thiel Best Magician In The World Award.

On another topic, I heard recently from Sarah in PA. She wondered if this was still a Photoshop blog. As I re-read these past postings, I realize I have said very little about Photoshop, our website ( and only a little about photography.

Yup. It's still a Photoshop blog, Sarah. Every pic you see here has been Photoshopped. And I will get back to things like correcting over-exposed images and how to use Adjustment Layers to unmake major "whoops" moments behind the lens.

But I also find travel, the people and the places, seriously fascinating. That's why I blog about them...and I really like to get the details down while they are still fresh in my little mind. So bear with me for just a little while.

Photography captures a moment. We've all heard that. There's a frozen second in every picture. Travel is like that. You get just one second at a time -- and each one either becomes a concrete memory -- or it fades off into oblivion and is lost forever. Think of these little travel vignettes as pictures that flow from my mind to yours. (Okay. That sounds a little gross. Let me put it this way: writing is like a mental snapshot communicated from one human being to another. There. Much better.)

Or you could pop back in a few days when I am done with the whole Vegas trip and am back into Photoshop and Photography.

Just a small word of warning: at the end of this month, Sheree and I are going to Houston, San Antonio and New Orleans. (We're travelling for the first time with another couple.) It's the last trip of the year (also the last trip we can afford *sigh*) and I will very likely have a lot more to share after that.

But thank you for writing! It helps me to know I am not just talking to myself.

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