Baloo's Bugle

March 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 14, Issue 8
April 2008 Theme

Theme: Abracadabra
Webelos: Sportsman & Family Member
Tiger Cub Activities


The Magician’s Oath
Sam Houston Area Council

  • Never ever repeat a trick.
  • Never, never, never give it away.

When you’ve fooled a group of friends with a trick and they’re trying to get the secret from you, just remember they’re trying to turn you from a baffling Magician into somebody with a cheesy little trick. Don’t tell them the secret. Just smile. Remember the magic words: “Let me show you something a little different...”

Rules of Magic:

  • Practice, Practice, Practice!
  • Better one good trick than 10 not-quite ready ones!
  • Don’t reveal the secret!  (although some simple tricks between friends might be ok to share)
  • Don’t repeat the same trick, unless repetition is part of the trick.
  • Don’t try to make your audience look foolish.
  • Know when to start (when people are waiting for something to happen) and know when to Stop –(before people get bored – Leave them wanting more!)
  • Act the part – and Smile!  (Your audience wants to have fun)
  • Know what to do if the trick fails ~ see below:

And if the trick goes wrong
Alice, Golden Empire Council

Good magicians know that sometimes a trick doesn’t work – the earth is rotating too slowly, your hands are sweaty, it’s Friday the 13th – for whatever reason, a good magician just goes on.  They either move on to another trick or use humor to keep the audience happy. Here are some Great Things to Say when your trick doesn’t work:

  • Well, it worked in the Magic Store!
  • It looked great from my side!
  • The real magician will be here shortly!
  • When I get this trick right, it won’t be a trick – it will be a miracle!
  • That was actually a trick we magicians call misdirection – while I kept your attention by pretending to mess up the trick, my assistant sneaked by with an elephant for a trick I’m doing later.  If you don’t believe me, go check in the other room!
  • OK!  On to the next trick!
  • Hey, what do you expect?  I got this trick out of Magic for Dummies!

A Parent’s Magic Bag of Tricks
Alice, Golden Empire Council

This is not, strictly speaking a magic trick – but parents will certainly appreciate this Magic Bag of Tricks when faced with a journey with children in a car, train or plane, or a long wait at a restaurant or doctor’s office!

There are some important rules:

  • Use the bag only in these situations – otherwise, it will lose its appeal!
  • Only one thing at a time for each child can come out of the bag!
  • Everyone must share the “magical” things in the bag!

Any bag will do – but a colorful cloth one is extra special.  It needs to have a secure closure, either a drawstring or a zipper.  Use only unbreakable items, and put individual things in sealable plastic bags to keep them handy. Here are some suggestions of what to put in your bag:

Pads of paper, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, re-useable stickers and sticker books, stopwatch or small hourglass, matchbox type cars, finger puppets, trivia books, playing cards, dice, magnifying glasses, Rubik’s cube or other 3D puzzles, magnetic travel games, small plastic army men, animals, dinosaurs or action figures, Etch a Sketch, pipe cleaners, shoelaces, origami paper & directions, small blunt scissors, scotch tape, sidewalk chalk, balloons, jump rope, jacks or marbles, a small book of game ideas.

  • For a car trip, add: inflatable ball, Frisbee, hacky sacks, clipboard or lapboard for each child, glow sticks, small flashlight (set a rule that no one can aim at the driver or rear-view mirror)
  • For a restaurant bag:  Add games that need a table to play, such as Pick Up Sticks, Slamwich card game

Try it – you will definitely like it! 
And the results of having a “Bag of Tricks”
will certainly seem magical!

Fun Facts About Magic
Alice, Golden Empire Council

  • The word magic comes from the Persian word "magus," a priestly class.
  • Magic has many names: conjuring, hocus pocus, prestidigitation, legerdemain, necromancy, sorcery, thaumaturgy and wizardry are a few of them.
  • The phrase Hocus Pocus may have come from a wizard of the Middle Ages known as Ochus Bachus, but some people think it comes from hoc est corpus, a Latin phrase from the Catholic Mass.
  • Ancient priests and shamans often used their knowledge of eclipses to perform “magic.”  Even Christopher Columbus used his knowledge of an upcoming eclipse to show his “magic” to Jamaican islanders. He called in the chiefs, warned them that God was about to blot out the moon for letting his men starve, and then took credit for the “restoration” of the moon from an eclipse when they brought food to his ship.
  • Levitations of people were performed in Greek dramas as early as 431 B.C.
  • The ancient Greeks erected statues of their favorite magicians, and Homer mentions “conjurors” in the Illiad.
  • More than 2,000 years ago, Hero of Alexandria described temple doors that opened mysteriously when a nearby fire was lit by priests.
  • Algonquian-speaking tribes from the Northeast to the Great Plains used ventriloquism to create the illusion of spirit voices.
  • Early religious dramas, or passion plays, held in Medieval churches, often featured individual and mass levitations.
  • An early painting by Hieronymus Bosch, called The Juggler, shows a pickpocket working the crowd while a magician performs a cups and ball routine.
  • Although the Indian Rope Trick is one of the oldest and most famous tricks, it has never been performed outdoors, in full view of the audience.
  • Robert Houdin, from whom Houdini took his name, introduced the wearing of a tie and tails instead of a wizard robe for magicians.
  • Herrmann the Great extracted a cigar from the beard of  President Ulysses S. Grant.
  • The Bullet Catch is the most dangerous trick in magic, and has killed over a dozen magicians. A marked bullet is fired at the magician, who catches it on a plate or even in his teeth! 
  • During World War II, magician Jasper Maskelyne hid the Suez Canal and Alexandria Harbor from the Germans and helped the Allied Forces win the war in Africa.   Check out his book Top Secret!
  • Harry Blackstone once saved a crowd of children from disaster.  In September 1942, a fire broke out at the Lincoln Theatre in Decatur, Illinois.  Rather than cause panic when a fireman told him the situation, Blackstone told the audience to follow him outside, where his next trick would be performed.
  • Magician Harry Houdini was the first man to fly an airplane in Australia.
  • You can become a professional magician as early as 12, by joining the worldwide International Brotherhood of Magicians, the world's largest magic organization.
  • In the late 1800s, magicians frequently used robots or automatons in their shows - they played cards, chess and even sketched profiles of their spectators.
  • The oldest magic store in the United States is Flosso-Hornmann Magic Shop in New York City, established n 1869, once owned by Houdini, and still in operation.
  • Television talk show hosts Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett and Arsenio Hall all started out as magicians.
  • Other famous people who were magicians: Don Johnson, Woody Allen, Dick Van Dyke, Milton Berle, Cary Grant, Bill Bixby, Jimmy Stewart, Steve Martin, Muhammad Ali, Bob Barker, George Bush, Jerry Lewis, Boris Karloff, Dom DeLuise.  Charles Dickens was also an enthusiastic amateur magician.

  • Magicians have also been inventors: Jasper Maskelyne invented the typewriter keyboard, another the telephone relay system, still another invented the Microwriter, a pocket-sized typewriter with five keys and a computerized personal organizer.
  • The Magic Castle, a private club for magicians, has many Hollywood stars as associate members.

Some Famous Magicians
Alice, Golden Empire Council

  • An 18th century Dutch magician used the hollowed out wooden leg as a secret hiding place for props.  Eliaser Bamberg had lost his leg in an explosion.
  • Another famous 18th Century magician was Matthew Buchinger. He was born without arms or legs and was 29 inches tall. But he was a master of “Cups & Balls” and a musician who had four wives and 11 children!
  • An African- American named Richard Potter, or "Black Potter," was a great ventriloquist and magician. It was said that he could swallow molten lead, enter a heated oven with a leg of lamb and stay there until the lamb was cooked, and dance on eggs without breaking them!
  • Adelaide Herrmann, the wife of Alexander Herrmann, America's foremost magician of the late 19th-century, toured the world for almost 30 years with her own spectacular magic act after her husband died. She was one of the first women to be fired from a cannon, and the first woman to perform with an old-fashioned high-wheeled bicycle.
  • Orson Welles, the actor and film director, had his own magic show for U.S. soldiers during World War II.
  • John Gardner, author of the 14 most recent James Bond thrillers is a magician. One of his novels, The Confessor, is a thriller about a master spy who is also a secret master magician.
  • Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926 and is still the world's best known magician. He took his name from French magician Robert-Houdin, and was famous for showmanship and as an escape artist. He made several silent films and creator many special effects and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after his death.
  • MagicianJohn Henry Anderson had a trick called the “Inexhaustible Bottle” in the 19th Century – he would pour various drinks, ordered by the audience, from a single bottle
  • Magician Okito (Theo Bamberg), was totally deaf and called himself “The Silent Oriental.”
  • Doc Nixon wore an Oriental costume, and really vanished in 1939. There were rumors he became a Tibetan monk.
  • Chung Ling Soo, the most famous Chinese magician of all time, was really an American named William E. Robinson. His true identity was discovered when he died in 1918 doing the Bullet Catch trick on a London stage.
  • Blackstone The Magician (as Harry Boughton was known) was also as a popular comic book hero of the 1940s.  He appeared each month in Super Magician Comics solving mysteries as a magician detective.
  • David Copperfield, a famous illusionist, has the greatest collection of magic books, tricks and memorabilia in the world.  He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is the world’s richest magician – he’s on the Fortune 500 list!
  • Howard Thurston switched from a ministry student to a magician after seeing Herrmann the Great. While thinking about the show, he was mistakenly given a train ticket to Syracuse, where Herrmann was headed, instead of Philadelphia.  Although he was too shy to speak to the magician, he later bought his show.  He was known for making a man magically turn upside-down in a box far too small, making a singer and her piano disappear and reappear in mid air over the audience, and making a girl reappear in a trunk suspended over the audience.
  • Horace Goldin, “The Whirlwind Wizard,” had a thick Polish accent and a stammer.  So instead of the usual spiel of talking, he did 45 tricks in a 17 minute show, including sawing a woman in half!
  • Cardini was another silent magician – he acted the part of a bewitched and drunken British gentleman, complete with monocle and tuxedo, and while “trying to remove his white gloves” performed all kinds of tricks with cards, billard balls that changed color, cigars and cigarettes.
  • Ed Marlo wrote over 60 books about magic with cards, contributing over 2,000 separate tricks.  One night, two magicians and their wives took Marlo and his wife to dinner for his birthday.  During the drive, one of them mentioned a new card trick – after the group got to the restaurant, they realized Marlo was missing – he was still in the back seat of the car, working on various methods to do the new trick!
  • In 1985, Harry Blackstone’s original “Floating Lightbulb,” built by Thomas Edison, was the first Magic donation made to the Smithsonian.
  • Eldon D. Wigton (Dr. Eldoonie) is the world’s fastest magician. He performed 255 tricks in 2 minutes on April, 21 1991
  • The world’s stongest magician is Ken Simmons, who can bench press over 500 pounds.  (Linking Ring 11-97)