Magic & Martinis Thursday for Aug. 8, 2013

Magic & Martinis Thursday is based on the philosophy that you can always make it through Friday.

It all began in the mid-1980’s when I was the house magician for Julio’s Restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. Pat Hazell was the hard working magician around town but was just moving to Los Angeles (where he worked as a writer on the Seinfeld TV show) at the time I was moving into town and he passed on this prime opportunity to me. I performed there every Thursday night until 10:00 for the nearly 18 months that I lived in Omaha.

Each evening when I was finished performing, I always ordered a plate of their famous nachos “to go”. As an aside, I believe it was the flour tortilla chips rather than corn chips that made them still the best nachos I have ever eaten. I brought these home where my wife and I enjoyed the late night snack as we stayed up to watch the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

We moved to Houston, Texas around 1987 where I became one of the house magicians at the Magic Island for many years. Although I was one of the close-up magicians in the “stable”, I also regularly performed on stage often filling in for some on dates when they had other “one or two day” commitments in New York, Chicago, television tapings, corporate obligations, etc. Plus I often worked the usual two to four week stints.

Anyway, I moved to Dallas in 1994 where I became a house magician at a local Asian restaurant. There again I worked on Thursdays and would often bring home something for a late night meal as we watched TV.

I moved back to Houston in 2000 and picked up where I left off as one of the house magicians at the Magic Island. But I supplemented that with a long term engagement as one of the magicians at a local Asian restaurant (Tokyohana Sushi Bar & Grill). There are a couple other magicians who alternate with me as we work on Thursday and Saturday evenings, but my preference is to work on Thursday nights which leaves open my weekends for more lucrative work.

In this age of DVR (Digital Video Recorders), we now record the shows we want to watch and save our favorite shows for Thursday night when I arrive home. My wife usually prepares something special though usually consisting of a variety of cheeses (i.e. Emmental, Cave Aged Gruyere, Jarlsberg Swiss, Parmesan Reggiano, Wensleydale, Five County Cheddar, etc.) and of course an assortment of crackers. This is usually supplemented with smoked oysters or perhaps sardines and pickles.

Very often we change it up a little and I might pick up some chili dogs on the way home from the restaurant, or my wife will prepare another appetizer such as baked mushrooms, tamales, miniature calzones, etc. Occasionally I find a recipe for some light snack or appetizer that I prepare during the day before I go to work at the restaurant.

But of course the feature of the evening is always the martinis. Our recent brand has been Three Olives which come in a variety of flavors. We have found the cherry to be the best…not too syrupy but just right. Other cherry vodkas don’t measure up. Just shake with ice and use an atomizer to spritz on a film of dry vermouth. When not drinking a flavored vodka, I prefer Belvedere, Gray Goose, or Kettle One straight up with only a mist of dry vermouth. Gin does not agree with my head the next day so it’s vodka for me.

I have posted pictures of Magic & Martinis Thursday each week since August 2012 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (HINT: follow me). It is a way to reach out and have a “virtual drink” with all of my magic friends from around the world every Thursday night. Many respond with messages of “cheers” and postings of what they are drinking. While I am away from my home base, it does not stop me from seeking out alternatives and other friends who enjoy the good life on Thursdays. You can see some of the pictures in my Facebook and Instagram photo archives with magicians at conventions who have joined me at the bar or in the hotel room. I plan to re-post those pictures here on Fridays so as to give some "regular" content to this blog.

If you are not performing on a Thursday night, then grab a deck of cards, click on the TV, queue up the DVR, shake up the martinis and pour and practice you Diagonal Palm Shift. This is a great way to unwind, relax and enjoy life. I highly recommend it.

So join us if you can. If you are under age or a teetotaler, then pour your favorite beverage be it soda, water or ginger ale and raise a glass to Magic & Martinis Thursdays!

Getting "high" with excitement for MAGIC Live! that starts this Sunday, Be sure to check back here on The Magic Word for daily updates with pictures and podcasts from Las Vegas, baby! And if you are Tweeting, be sure to use hashtags #MAGICLive and #ML13 and #MagicWordPodcast

During the past week, I had lunch with two of my local magician pals, Jamie Salinas and Banachek. We talked about a ton of things from Las Vegas and Criss Angel to Houston and The Magic Island with lots of detours along the way.

One of the things that Jamie shared with us was a new purchase from Penquin Magic. It was a $4.95 immediate download from Rick Lax called, “To-Do VooDoo”. Essentially, you have a hand written “to-do” list with several tasks for the day. Your volunteer thinks of a number, then looks at the list to silently read the task that corresponds with his number and you tell him what task he selected. It’s that simple, straightforward with NO FISHING and so inexpensive that you can't afford NOT to buy it. This is an easy, impromptu mind reading effect that I think is one of the best mentalism effects to come along in a while that was built on earlier premises. Banachek agreed that it was quite a clever idea. I think he liked it because of the various subtleties.

Jamie repeated his presentation for us at lunch that he gave at the monthly meeting of the Houston Association of Magicians (H.A.O.M.) the night before. He has some excellent presentational tips where he immediately repeats the effect with another spectator. As usual, Banachek immediately gave us a couple ideas that took it even higher and moved it from the “impressive mystery class” to the “miracle” class. How does he do that with such ease and clarity?

Would you like to see Banachek perform for free? If you are anywhere near the Houston area next week, you can be part of a television taping of Banachek for a Japanese network. He will perform on Tuesday August 13th at The Marque at 11:00 a.m. If you are interested in attending this free show and being part of the taping, then please contact Banachek at 

Speaking of H.A.O.M. meeting this week, we were treated to the first of three mini-lectures by Scott Hollingsworth. Scotto, as he is affectionately known by his friends, was the Entertainment Director at Houston’s former Magic Island. He was also a pioneer in the restaurant magic business from the early 1970’s, and probably pre-dating that, too. His original lecture notes, “Cashing in on Close-Up” set the standard with tips, ideas and marketing advice for any “would-be” restaurant magician. His lecture notes “Cashing in on Close-Up” have long been out of print but can occasionally be found on eBay for upwards of $100. Well magic fans, Scotto has updated, revised, re-written and re-formatted those notes and speaks of tools to use for marketing yourself. Years ago when the notes were first written, even Star Trek wasn’t around to give us a future glimpse of computers and what they could do. There are still the important chapters for getting that restaurant job, working with the wait staff, scripts for interacting with the manager/owner on your first visit, approaching the table, and more. You can contact Scotto at and find out how to buy a copy. You’ll be glad you did.