Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

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Tom Frame
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Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Tom Frame » October 11th, 2008, 3:11 pm

Penn & Tellers Magic and Mystery Tour (DVD) $21.99
Running time: 150 minutes
Available at www.amazon.com


In 2003, this delightful 3-part mini series by Penn & Teller appeared on Canadian TV. I dont recall hearing any buzz about it here in the states. Am I the only one who didnt get a memo about this show? If this is old news, Im sorry. But its good news to me.

The series documents the duos trek around the world to explore the origins of magic and examine how the art form has influenced and been changed by different traditions and cultures. They travel around China, Egypt and India, savoring the local magic they find in the streets, homes, clubs, museums and classrooms. Penn and Teller have fun with the lay folk and discuss and compare the different types of magic with the local magicians.

Our intrepid explorers transport boxes of canned food with them, because they dare not partake of the local cuisine.

In China P&T endure freezing temperatures, both indoors and outdoors, in their quest for the origins and mysteries of the Linking Rings. They visit a magic school and sit in on a magic class.

The guys discover a magic venue where magicians with Chavez-like training perform a classic Western act as soon as one seat in the theater is occupied. Then its one act right after another. As long as there is a body in the audience, the show goes on continuously.

We visit a school for acrobats and jugglers where Penn eats fire and juggles with one of the trainees. Teller performs his brilliant handling of the needles trick, and tinkers with the rings.

Numerous traditional Chinese street magic effects are skillfully executed by half dressed men performing in below freezing temperatures. I watch slack-jawed as a gentleman performs about a dozen instantaneous mask changes, with no cover. If Jeff McBride sees this performance, he will fall to his knees and weep.

Next, were off to Egypt, to research the Cups & Balls, and the Gali Gali men. There are great archival clips of Luxor Gali Gali performing on the Ed Sullivan show. His Cups and Balls routine is marvelous, ending with the production of a dozen baby chicks.

We are treated to traditional street magic, much of which is of the geek variety. P&T meet and hang out with a Gali Gali man named Karom, who turns out to be the grandson of Luxor Gali Gali, and who performs with his grandfathers original cups.

Teller speaks! He speaks quite thoughtfully about the Cups and Balls and magic in general.
The guys visit a building at Beni Hassan to examine the 4000 year old paintings on the walls, one of which is said to be the first depiction of the Cups & Balls. I wont tip their assessment. But in another series of paintings, we do see a clear demonstration of juggling, exemplifying once again how the juggler often steals the show.

P&T perform their Cups & Balls routine, finishing with the clear plastic glass demonstration.

Finally, we visit India, in search of the mythic Rope Trick. Before finding it, we witness more street magic, of an even bloodier nature. Many of the performances are essentially short plays, most of which tell the tale of a father torturing and/or murdering his son, then bringing him back to life.

Theres a very convincing performance of the Hindu Basket, and various and sundry geek effects.

P&T finally find a magician who performs the fable Rope Trick outdoors. After experiencing some technical difficulties, the performer causes the rope to rise up about 8 feet. His son then climbs up and hangs on for several moments. The boy climbs back down, without getting killed. At the magicians command, the rope falls limply back into the basket. This looks great, and I havent a clue how he does it.

That brings our journey to an end.

The DVD also contains additional scenes and outtakes. There is an onscreen text feature called Tidbits that describes behind-the-scenes incidents and relevant factoids. Its informative and entertaining stuff.

From beginning to end, I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD. I saw things Id never seen before and learned a bit about the magic culture and traditions of far away lands. P&T are skillful, charming, outrageous and very very smart. They are consistently entertaining and often laugh out loud funny.

Highly recommended.
"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

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Joe Pecore
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Joe Pecore » October 11th, 2008, 3:23 pm

I bought this DVD when it first came out. I enjoyed it too.
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Bill Mullins
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Bill Mullins » November 14th, 2008, 3:52 pm

Tom Frame wrote: There are great archival clips of Luxor Gali Gali performing on the Ed Sullivan show. His Cups and Balls routine is marvelous, ending with the production of a dozen baby chicks.


Is this the clip where one of the baby chicks is limping around on the table, because Gali Gali crashed a cup on its little leg, breaking it?

Tom Frame
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Tom Frame » November 15th, 2008, 9:54 am

Gulp! After further review, yes, one of the chicks is limping around. I hadn't noticed that before because I was too swept up by all the birdies. Damn, that's terrible!
"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

Jeff Eline
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Jeff Eline » November 15th, 2008, 12:19 pm

Tom Frame wrote:Gulp! After further review, yes, one of the chicks is limping around. I hadn't noticed that before because I was too swept up by all the birdies. Damn, that's terrible!

No need to worry. That chickie and all his buddies will cheer up later when they rides the hotel water flume later.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 15th, 2008, 12:33 pm

Gali Gali was rumored to have purposefully slammed the cups down hard enough to break ALL the chicks' legs so they would stay still when he lifted the cups. At every performance. Upon returning to his hotel after every show, he would flush them down the toilet. He was taken to court for this, but was somehow exonerated.
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DrDanny
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby DrDanny » November 15th, 2008, 3:44 pm

There's a special place in hell for people who abuse defenseless animals.

Philemon
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Philemon » November 15th, 2008, 7:57 pm

Heaven must be full of vegetarians only then.

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mrgoat
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby mrgoat » November 15th, 2008, 8:03 pm

Philemon wrote:Heaven must be full of vegetarians only then.


Yes, there is clearly no difference between killing an animal to eat it, as opposed to killing an animal for a production load.

Dave Egleston
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Dave Egleston » November 15th, 2008, 10:33 pm

Has anyone ever noticed that vegetarians spend an inordinate time trying to make vegetables taste "Just like meat"?

But you NEVER hear Hormel, Blue Ribbon Beef, Oscar Meyer or me try and make a pork chop taste like a soy bean?

Dave

Philemon
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Philemon » November 18th, 2008, 3:12 am

And then there's "bacon salt."

Dick Christian
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Dick Christian » November 18th, 2008, 3:08 pm

I've long maintained that if G-d didn't want us to eat animals he wouldn't have made them out of meat. Then there's the guy who is so vegan that he won't eat anything that casts a shadow.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 18th, 2008, 4:03 pm

Aside from some digestibility and water use issues - what's the big deal about vegetarianism?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

DrDanny
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Re: Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Postby DrDanny » November 18th, 2008, 7:31 pm

I don't have anything against vegetarians or vegetables. (Insert joke here.) I even like soy as long as it has enough pride to be itself - tofu or edamame or whatever. Human dentition has clearly evolved to handle meat-n-three. Plus bread, and dessert if you clean your plate. Just don't make me pretend to enjoy watching a baby chick get crippled just so some putz can create a nice applause cue.


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