Magic That Inspired Me The Most In 2017

YouTube is both a gift and a curse for magicians. On the one hand, it’s fantastic at spreading the excitement and mystery of magic to a wider audience that has never been to a magic show, on the other hand, it is always so tempting to hit that pause button to catch what sleight the magician just performed.

On the one hand, it’s fantastic at spreading the excitement and mystery of magic to a wider audience that has never been to a magic show. On the other hand, it is always so tempting to hit that pause button to try and catch the sleight the magician just performed.

“The hand is quicker than the eye”, goes the old saying, but the pause button makes speed obsolete.

I started dabbling in a little bit of magic in December of 2016 when I watched David Blaine perform on Jimmy Kimmel’s show with the Black Eyed Peas. It was an awesome trick, and I knew I could figure it out if I spent a little bit of time utilizing my programmer’s mind to reverse-engineer how Blaine did it.

10 minutes later, I gave my theory on how the trick worked a try, and Leah’s reaction and giggles set me off on a journey to learn more.

These days, I still love and get inspired by the magic acts I see on YouTube, but even as inexperienced as I am, it’s hard for me to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. I get so lost watching the magician’s hands and searching for their suspicious little movements, that I don’t enjoy the beauty of the routine and the hard work that they put into creating it as much as I’d like.

I suppose that’s just how it goes when you’re working to become a magic hobbyist. It’s a blessing and a curse, just like YouTube.

There are a few acts, though, that have managed to completely blow me away. The skill, the beauty, the cohesive storytelling, and the stage-presence of the magicians in the clips below took me out of that skeptic’s mindset, and gave me back the sense of wonderment and awe that I try to create for my audience.

These are a few of the best YouTube magic clips that I’ve seen so far in 2017. Not just because the tricks themselves are impressive, though they are, but because¬†of how the magician masterfully leads me in the direction they want me to go, and then leaves me there with my jaw dragging on the floor.

Enjoy these clips.

Backstage Magic Trick: Penn & Teller (on Jimmy Kimmel)

Hard not to talk about Penn & Teller when discussing magic. These guys are masters, for real. There are two things about this routine from the famous magic duo that I really loved:

  1. ¬†It shows that you don’t need a complex set of tools or the most advanced, modern technology to impress an audience. It’s all about how you tell the story.
  2. I can’t remember the last time I felt like a giddy little kid like I did when watching this. They didn’t just tell an engaging story, they actually brought me back in time. So cool!

Street Magic Brooklyn: Chris Ramsay

I’ve been a big fan of Chris Ramsay’s since I found out about him in January this year. He has inspired me with his tricks, video blogs, tutorials, and his slick camera editing skills to keep pushing forward with creating my own routines. I understand the world of magic better because of him.

In this video clip he takes to the streets of Brooklyn to show off his skills, and even talk a little bit about the reason why magic is important. He shows here that magic and mentalism tricks, even some that are incredibly simple to execute, can really brighten a stranger’s day. Cool stuff here.

Fooled: Richard Turner

Richard Turner, a self-titled “card mechanic”, can not see… not with his eyes at least. He has worked for so many years to develop a sense of touch with playing cards that is unmatched. He has even worked with Bicycle Playing Card Co. to help them understand the differences in all 52 cards in a deck, which he uses to give him incredible control whenever he picks them up.

He doesn’t just have a good feel for the cards, though, his sleight of hand is beyond anything else I’ve seen. I don’t understand how anyone can become as skilled as he has with his sleights, and even more so considering he is blind!

A Message: Shin Lim

I can’t get enough of this guy. Shin Lim takes two things that I love dearly, magic and music, and blends them to create seamless routines that astonish anyone who watches. Once a pianist, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel which forced him to leave music… and now he’s a card magician?

Just under two years ago he severed two tendons in his thumb and was told he may never be able to do card magic again, and yet here he is performing a routine that is so captivating that it took me a half-dozen views before I could even begin to try and watch for his sleight of hand. He is truly a phenomenal performer, and I’m excited to see what else he’ll do in the future.

Too Many Bottles: Mat Franco

I’ve seen quite a few people repeat this act almost word for word and movement for movement. None of them quite match Mat Franco, though, in his excellent stage presence and the way he keeps me asking for more. Whenever I have a friend over and we get to talking about magic, I show them this video. If I can one day get to the point of taking an old classic trick and performing it like Mat does here, I’ll be feeling pretty dang proud.

BONUS – Smoke and Cards: Shin Lim

Just for good measure, I’m gonna throw this last clip in to show once again just how powerful mixing magic and music can be. This has inspired me greatly to find my own ways to mix smoke and magic together (as you can see in my photo at the top of this page). There are no words that I can really use to explain just how good Shin Lim is in this routine, so I’ll leave you with it. It’s crazy how an act with so few words can communicate so much emotion.

The Magic in Music

"The Magic of Music" Narrated

by Tim Stiffler-Dean | Blog Posts Narrated

Occasionally, our original plans have to get put aside in order to make room for something much better.

My original plan tonight was to write about a simple card trick that I had created earlier today. Which I thought might make for a nice introduction to my magic hobby. The Universe proved to me once again, though, that it has its own tricks up its sleeves, and I’ll have to save that article for another time.

Instead, I’ve found myself exploring a different kind of magic:

Music.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

I am at my most inspired state for writing when I am listening to music. Every time I sit down to write, whether it’s a private journal entry, a blog post for you, or even some code, I always start by hitting that play button in my music player.

Music gives my words, and yes, my code, meaning beyond simple definitions and semantics. It helps me understand the emotion for each syllable uttered throughout the course of internal dialogue that plays in my mind, while searching for the words that should be used next. It helps me match the cadence of my voice to the cadence of a song, which makes the entire experience for you, my reader, that much more engaging.

When I listen to music while writing, everything just seems to come together the way it’s supposed to.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”
-Victor Hugo

Tonight, I began with a plan for what to write, but the music did not allow me to. Johann Johannsson, with his Cambridge, 1963 from The Theory of Everything movie soundtrack (which you can listen to above), gripped my thoughts and tore them from the path that they were on. There would be no simple writing of a blog post; I needed to let the music lead my thoughts elsewhere, and wait to see where I ended up.

I’m still listening to that soundtrack. Enjoying the sights that it’s granting me to see with closed eyes. Falling into the emotions of an entire history’s worth of human experiences that each track is imbued with. Holding fast to piano-played notes as they delicately dance through my heart and carry on chasing a not-too-distant dream world. Sinking back into my pillow with the aching fear that I may die tomorrow and never hear these songs again.

For your own sake, your own sanity, your own soul… do not let these notes play on in vain. Be cautious with your time. Be jealous with it. Be protective of it. Our time is finite, and while the greatest desire of mankind has been to make himself immortal, we must recognize the limitations that come with that desire.

We cannot make ourselves immortal, but we can multiply the moments that make up our mortality. Take a single second and witness it become four when a perfect chord is struck on a piano. Take a minute and transform it into a thousand with a drumroll that threatens to never end. Take an instant and amplify your desire to press on with each blast of the trumpet choirs.

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
-Albert Einstein

I don’t just use music as a tool to help me focus, I use it as a way to increase the value of each moment that I find myself creating something. It’s the difference between being “active” and being “fruitful”. There’s no sense in working to no end, but even if you have no idea what your end goal looks like, at least multiply the moments leading up to it with whatever kind of music inspires you to go further.

Your end result may look different than you originally planned, but if the music leads you to go further then you should be proud that you can go as far as you can. Keep going.

Don’t stop.

And, now that I’m sufficiently inspired, I’ve got more work to do.

It’s gonna be a great night.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Music Credit: Bensound.com

He who has never failed somewhere…

"He who has never failed somewhere..." Narration

by Tim Stiffler-Dean | Blog Posts Narrated

Writing can be a chore sometimes.

That is to say, when you’re in the middle of some great new discovery of self, writing can be an excellent way to spend your time, but when you’re putting all of your time and energy into your dreams and goals, writing can be a chore.

When your chores aren’t getting done, though, they tend to pile up.

I do enjoy writing. I enjoy the clattering of keys as I explore this ancient form of self-expression. I enjoy the sounds of epic music playing from my computer speakers and leading me into a mindset of adventure and grandiosity. I enjoy the silent satisfaction of re-reading what I had written and considering the edits that are needed to more accurately communicate my intentions.

Above all of that, I enjoy creating.

Which is why, for the last six months, I’ve been more silent than usual in my blog-formed ramblings.

You see, I have been busy creating.

Creating the physical representation of a great vision which I have had for nearly a decade now – opening a coffee shop.

My part in that coffee shop’s life, however, is now over, and at this time in my journey I am forced to concede that the title of, “Tim Stiffler-Dean, Coffee Shop Owner” is not meant to be.

Oh well. Life goes on. The Architect returns.

A Time For Silence

Whenever a big change in life happens, it’s important to take a step back and re-evaluate¬†everything that has lead up to this moment. While one chess piece has been knocked off the board, other pieces have already been in play, and their potential energy should not be too quickly dismissed as useless.

I am now in the process of looking at these pieces and listening to how they want me to play the game.

And so it is that I find myself silent. No decisions to announce. No big new projects to show to the public. No major life changes to settle into. Just silent observations of the world around me, and the desires within me.

Writing helps the observing eye see clearly.

I have other dreams I could continue to pursue; like finally taking my book to print, or building on my project management system toolset.

I have friends whom I would love to support in their endeavors; like Sara and Aaron at Conceptopolis who are getting into the publishing game, or the many college-aged friends I have who are still running after dream careers.

I have small hobbies I should keep sharing; like spreading my love of good coffee with a chat bot, learning how to whittle wood into small trinkets and ornaments, or writing regularly on this blog.

I have relationships that I need to keep working on. I have music I want to write. I have websites that I envision building. I have passionate causes that will continue growing and moving with or without me.

I have a lot on my mind.

And so, I find myself silent.

Habits Being Formed

While I sit here, silently observing whatever is within and without, I must still make progress forward. In some direction, any direction, that will lead me away from this fixed location in time and space.

For your great reading pleasure (I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for this moment), I give you my list of current activities. Though, if I’m being honest, this is more for me to re-read again in the future than for you to be engrossed with now.

  • I’ve taken back my position working from home as the developer at¬†KrakenPrint, a custom book printing company based in Chicago. The team there has been gracious to me in immediately offering me my old job back after my work at the coffee shop ended. I’ll be building their internal systems of communication, operations management, and customer service over the next several months, and hopefully setting the company up on a great foundation from which it can grow.
  • I am staying in Nashville, TN, with my fianc√©, Leah, and continuing to get to know our new community here. It’s a beautiful city with a lot of beautiful people, and I am finding that a great use of my time is exploring this place as much as possible.
  • I have picked up a few books, using some old credit I had in my Amazon account, and have already started back in on my old reading habits.
  • I’m going to eat healthier and at home more often. No doubt it will strengthen my relationship with Leah, but it will also strengthen my lifespan and endurance during the hard times.
  • I will continue heeding some great advice from my friend, the owner of Vibe Coffee in Elizabethtown, KY, and limiting my consumption of the news and sensationalist media as much as possible. This is a hard thing to do, but I’ve found myself much more focused and clear-headed when I don’t fill my day up with the news. I’d like to keep it that way.
  • I am reaching out to old friends that I’ve lost touch with and getting to know them again. Relationships are important to me, and so many people have had an influence on my life. It’s important that I become better at keeping relationships strong, no matter the time or distance apart.

Most importantly, I’m going to be writing again. A lot.

It’s not a chore if you enjoy it, right? Especially not if it helps keep the mind focused, and with an audience that can hold me accountable to my desires for continued growth in work and play.

Stay tuned for more. Thanks for sticking with me.

Photo credit: Kolby Schnelli