I just love performing walk around magic at events. Magic is a universal language that brings everyone together with laughter and astonishment. People are so intrigued and willing to be amazed. I feel so lucky that this is my job.
I just love performing walk around magic at events. Magic is a universal language that brings everyone together with laughter and astonishment. People are so intrigued and willing to be amazed. I feel so lucky that this is my job.
When it comes to notes, instruction manuals, business cards and really anything else with a potentially useful bit of information, I had the worst sorting habits for years. I refused to get rid of any scrap of potentially useful information for fear I would be at a loss without it. However, since I did such a terrible job of organizing any of it when the time came to find something I would end up digging through boxes, not finding the stupid thing and making a giant mess.
When I had a meeting at the bank last month and could not find a single file they requested, I realized that something had to be done and with the help of Evernote I managed to digitize absolutly everything into a searchable database of secure files I can access anywhere in just 3 days.
Evernote is a program that uses image capturing, audio recording, tags, and notebooks to digitize, store and organize your information in a way that makes it searchable as hell.
One of Evernote’s best features is business card capturing, which is perfect for helping you remember the people you meet at events of conventions. The business card camera capturing feature takes the clearest possible image of the card, reads the data and adds it in the appropriate fields then finds that person’s Linked in profile and saves everything into a contact note.
This feature alone is worth the price of admission, which can be as little as free depending on which features you need.
No scanner? No problem. Scannable is a sister app created by Evernote’s that captures paper documents quickly and sharply and creates high-quality scans you can sort, save and share with the touch of a button. Alternativly you can also scan documents into the Evernote app directly, but there are a few extra features with Scannable that are worth considering, including a crop feature.
Once in a while a product actually comes with an electronic copy of the manual, yay! You can file any of these immediately in your Evernote storage. I created a Notebook just for the manuals, then tagged each with a “type” (#tools, #appliances, etc.) to make them easier to find when I need them.
If you don’t have a digital copy of the manual, it’s time to go on the hunt. We can start by visiting the manufacturer’s website since most companies have a cache of docs going back years; as long as you have a model number for the product—usually printed right on it—it is typically easy to find. If that fails you can search manual collections online. ManualsLib is my preferred hub for product manuals, I am always surprised how few people have heard of them since they are likely the largest online database of product manuals.
When you’ve got all your documents digitized and sorted you can go ahead and recycle the original paper copies saving space in your office and your mind.
After tossing all my membership and loyalty cards, the next thing to downsize was the pile of business receipts and bills that had been accumulating for years. Every little write-off since I started the company years ago, I was overwhelmed.
In just 3 days, I use 3 killer tools to climb out of the pile of paper and into a clutter free office. (Note: please recycle the paper you declutter)
Gone are the days of paper bookkeeping, although I loved my paper accounting ledgers I am now a complete Mint convert. Mint is a free online bookkeeping system that automatically pulls transactions from all your accounts in real time. The super clean and easy to use interface allows you to sort and categorize purchases, build budgets, search past transactions and even creates little charts that help you to visualize your spending habits. You can add cash spending transactions manually and the program even starts to learn how to automatically sort your purchases over time.
Of course with all your bookkeeping migrating online, what do you do with those pesky receipts? Expensify is by far the best app for keeping track of your recipes! Their “SmartScan” system reads your receipt and uses OCR technology to automatically scan for details that allow it to sort and categorize them in an instant.
The last major change was to make sure all my bills were available online and were no longer being mailed to the house. Phone, internet, power and gas, they can all be paid online which would avoid the extra filing and the extra paper waste. Some companies want you to switch to paperless billing so badly they even charge a small fee, so check your statement to make sure you’re not getting dinged for paper bills you didn’t want in the first place.
The best part of this deliberate purge and move towards digital solutions is that with Mint tracking my bookkeeping, Expensify sorting my receipts and no new paper bills coming in, keeping on top of the office paper clutter is remarkably easy.
I’ve spent a lot of time today getting on top of my paper clutter by creating clear management systems for everything from mail to loyalty cards. This has been a huge relief and I want you to experience the same freedom I am now enjoying. All you need to get started is a smartphone and a couple of minutes.
Stocard, Key Ring & UGO Wallet are the top three apps for lightening your wallet, they allow your to quickly and easily digitizing all your Loyalty and Membership cards. All three are avilable for android or IOS, all three are totally free and all three are currently sitting on my phone. Yes, that’s right, I downloaded all three apps and uploaded each and every one of my cards to get an idea of the quality of these three apps and to determine if there was one outlier in the bunch.
The answer is yes, after playing with all three and using them in stores I can definitively say that Stocard is the superior app. You can upload your cards at twice the speed of the other two with the impressive barcode reader, the interface is clean and simple and is has the largest database of shops.
There is no denying that the history of entertainment includes some really messed up stuff. Sure, we’ve had our Shakespeares and Mozarts; but at various times, we were also gaga over gladiator battles, cockfights, bear baiting, and the cringe-worthy tradition of blackface and minstrel shows.
With all the progress we’ve made moving toward nobler forms of theatre, with almost no forms of animal torture at all, we tend to think of ours as an era of modern entertainment. Look how progressive the theater has become! we think, while buying Hamilton tickets on our smartphones and basking in the air-conditioning and free wifi at our local Starbucks. Truly this is a golden age and we pat ourselves on the back for all the ways we are far superior to generations past. Yay!
Although we have certainly come a long way, it seems to me that there are still some aspects of theatrical entertainment that are stuck in the dark ages. Let me tell you the story of an act I saw recently:
The performer walked onstage and introduced a little pill. He told the crowd that anyone who took this pill would be compelled to do anything he asked. To add even more intrigue to his plot, he stated that volunteers would likely be unable to remember what happened to them while under the influence of the drug. “But trust me,” he said, “it’ll be fun.”
A young woman from the audience was brought to the stage and given the pill. In an instant, she became visibly drowsy and disoriented. The performer guided her through a series of increasingly embarrassing stunts, including the revelation of personal information, private fantasies and even the performance of simulated sex acts. The audience was encouraged to laugh and cheer. “This is fun,” the performer kept saying, but I couldn’t help feeling deeply uncomfortable.
The show concluded with the volunteer sobering up, confirming that the pill had indeed made her unaware of anything she had done during the act, and she was unable to recall her actions. With that, she was sent back to her seat to a round of applause. The performer then pointed out that the entire show had been video recorded and everyone should buy a copy, joking that “It would make great blackmail material.”
I think most of us would agree that this act is morally dubious, to say the least. A volunteer under the influence of a powerful drug that removes their ability to consent should not be made to discuss private information, do embarrassing stunts, or perform pseudosexual acts. This show, which encourages friends, coworkers, and strangers to point and laugh at someone made vulnerable and then taken advantage of for the amusement of the crowd, should not be sold as entertainment.
Now take a minute to reread the description of the act, but replace that little pill with hypnosis. If it’s not okay to remove someone’s consent with a drug, then why should it be okay to do it through hypnosis in the context of a magic show?
The first hypnosis performance (or hypno show) I ever saw gave me an icky feeling I couldn’t explain, a sort of unsettling anxiousness in the pit of my stomach. Maybe it was just that particular performer or the burrito I’d had for lunch, but it made me question what I was being asked to see as entertainment. After speaking with many theatre people, magicians, and even a few psychologists who’ve had similar experiences, I realized that this sort of act falls into a moral grey area that we have avoided talking about in the worlds of magic and variety arts.
The narrative a hypno show is selling to the audience implies by its nature that it is acceptable to “make” someone perform embarrassing or sexual acts for the enjoyment of a crowd when that person is in a state of suggestibility similar to that created by drugs or alcohol — which, of course, it is not. The idea that these shows are usually marketed to colleges and universities is even more unsettling, considering the recent focus on educating students about the importance of consent in an effort to address the very real threat of date rape. I vividly remember as the entertainment director for ACAD (Alberta College of Art & Design) being inundated with promotional material from hypnotists with quotes like “I’ll have your students humping the walls.”
Whatever the moral implications, hypnosis is a fascinating phenomenon that reveals some amazing things about the human mind, and it’s certain to wow crowds. I can see why people would be drawn to it, and I would even call myself an advocate for science and research in this field, but is it appropriate to sell as a comedy show?
I should clarify that I am talking only about the NARRATIVE of a hyno show, whether the effect it has on people is real for the people under it’s influence or not is not the issue we are discussing here. Is the narrative hypno shows sell to crowds about consent appropriate or even socially responsible? Is it okay to imply that toying with the minds and lives of audience members as a form of amusement us acceptable?
Perhaps I’m missing something or maybe all the hypno shows I’ve ever seen have been outliers, but it seems to me that this form of magic is inappropriate, both in its implications and in its practices. I would argue that we should be having more conversations like this, discussions about the moral implications of what we do as performers. Let’s begin to ask ourselves about the true impact of the fantasies we create onstage, the messages we send to our audience, and how those ideas affect people in the long-term. And maybe, just maybe, we can agree that it’s time for hypnosis to go the way of the minstrel show.
I realized that it had been 4 years since I made a promotional video! Yecks!
First published as the Cover Story for Northern Peek’s Volume 18, No. 1, Spring 2015
Written by me (Carisa Hendrix), about Canadian Magician Micky Hades
Micky Hades is a fascinating figure. As the creator of Micky Hades International (MHI), which owned and operated magic shops in three major cities (Seattle, Vancouver and Calgary), he has built an incredible collection of magic literature that took over an entire house — every room, from floor to ceiling. Still, Micky insists, “I’m not a collector. Once I got them, I couldn’t let them go.”
Throughout his life, he has built custom props for world famous magicians, performed many thousands of shows and has written volumes on the art of magic. I don’t think anyone would deny that Micky is a brilliant magic mind, a charming entertainer, and a truly wonderful storyteller.
John Kaplan, Micky’s former apprentice and now a respected professional performer in his own right, recently wrote a wonderful retrospective of Micky that appeared in Vanish magazine. In that article, Kaplan recounts:
As a child, Micky had been inspired by the performance of John C. Greene, a magician and touring showman who traveled widely in Canada and the United States… Something about the way Micky’s mind worked enabled him to figure out how some of those mechanical tricks he’d seen performed by John C. Greene worked — long before he’d ever read any magic book. Panels from apple containers were transformed into wooden die boxes and chimneys. Convenient pieces of firewood were whittled, nailed, and painted into magical props. Some ladies’ slips discreetly disappeared as they were cut, hemmed, and dyed for magical use.
From such humble beginnings, Micky grew up to influence magicians across Canada and, indeed, the world.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Micky Hades recently. I arrived at Micky’s home late one afternoon and we sat down in the front room of one of his three houses. These very special properties sit all in a row on a seemingly ordinary city block; they consist of his home, his massive private magic library, and his workspace. The freshly fallen snow on the ground surrounding the trio of properties was covered in the tiny tracks of a dozen white rabbits that run wild in the area like little Magic Mascots. Micky assured me that he was not responsible for the adorable infestation, although I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be many more little paw prints in his yards than in any others on the block.
With such an impressive career, I asked Micky what he considers to be his most important accomplishment. He said, without a moment’s hesitation, “The Micky Hades Improved Finger Chopper.” He told me that he’d always “had a knack for looking at something and thinking, That’s great, but couldn’t it be better?”
It just so happened that he had sold the very last of his original choppers that day and, lucky for me, was feeling quite nostalgic.
If you are unfamiliar with this effect, it involves a miniature guillotine that comes in two parts: a small wooden support structure and a removable chopping blade. The blade is shown to cut through carrots and other objects with ease. The spectator places his or her finger — reluctantly, to be sure — into the opening in the support structure. When the blade is slammed down, it magically passes through the spectator’s finger without causing any harm. The blade and support structure are fully examinable, the chopper resets automatically, and it is a killer effect. The secret of the chopper is very clever and elegant in its simplicity. “It’s the best thing I ever built,” Micky declared.
As we chatted and he shared his stories, I realized that the special charm of Micky Hades shines brightest in his gifts as a storyteller. So perhaps the best thing I can offer is a little taste of that Hades charm. What follows is a collection of Micky tales recounted to me on that day.
During our talk, Micky said that he used to worry about laypeople handling the chopper out of his sight, for fear that they could hurt somebody with it. Based on the following story, that fear seems to have been well warranted.
Back when Micky was working as a roving magician, his signature finger chopper was an important part of his close-up repertoire. It was a big hit — pun intended. He recalled one particular event, shortly after he first designed the effect when he was working at a wedding. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a man watching him intently. The man had been following Micky around all night, making specific and deliberate note of how Micky handled the chopper. Micky wasn’t quite sure what to make of this. He thought, Oh, he really likes magic.
As the night continued, Micky moved on to other tricks. And somehow, he lost sight of the finger chopper. Having just finished performing at a table, Micky turned to see the trick-loving man approaching him with short, quick steps. Micky stood up to greet the nice gentleman. Only then did he notice the look of anger on the man’s face. And then he noticed the sharp pain spreading across his own face because the magic-loving gentleman had just punched Micky square in the nose.
“I had no idea what had happened,” Micky told me. “It’s a party, people are drinking — you never know.” Micky turned away without saying a word to the angry man, walked out of the room, and thought, Well, I’m going home.
Micky later found out that Mr. Punchy had gotten hold of the finger chopper. Thinking that he had the whole thing figured out, he’d placed his finger inside the opening and then proceeded to smash the steel blade down onto his unyielding digit, assuming that the blade would just give way under brute force. It didn’t.
Micky was a regular at magic conventions for many years and a constant fixture in the dealer rooms. Micky recalled one afternoon when a young kid, maybe sixteen years old, came up to his booth and wanted to see what Micky had that was different from the items for sale at the other vendors.
Micky was especially fond of the demo for his signature chopper. He told me with great pride, “Every demonstration was a sale.”
“I do have one thing,” Micky said to the kid. “It’s not magic, though. It’s for making carrot soufflé. You put a carrot in it just here and it cuts them perfectly. But if you put your finger in there, it won’t cut — because it only cuts carrots.” Micky went through the whole routine and held the boy’s finger tight as he pushed the blade right through. The kid looked at Micky for a moment, then he looked back at the prop, completely dumbfounded. After a pause, the boy said, “How much?” Micky told him the price: $15. “Okay,” said the boy, “I’ll go get my mom.” Then he disappeared into the crowd.
A few moments later, the boy reappeared, dragging along his mother, who seemed decidedly doubtful about the whole thing. She asked to see the magic trick that her son was so excited about. So, Micky went into the routine a second time. But try as he might, Micky couldn’t convince the lady to put her finger through the opening in the prop. She just wouldn’t do it. “Can’t we use a pencil?” she asked. “Nope, that wouldn’t work,” Micky replied. Then he said, “I’ll explain it to you, but you can’t tell nobody. You see, the blade travels through the flesh of the finger so fast that it heals instantly as if it was never cut.”
She still refused. Micky tried a new angle. “Okay, well, I can’t sell it to anyone under eighteen years old. But you could buy it for him if you want. You’re his mother. It’s up to you — and you should really see how it’s done.”
The woman looked back into the pleading eyes of her son. Finally, she gave in. She slipped her finger into the prop, the blade passed through, and voilà — another successful demonstration. The lady reached into her purse, grabbed the cash and said “Here,” and then turned to leave with the trick.
Now this is the fun part. Unfortunately, the lady had not stuck around long enough to find out how the effect was done, which was a problem in and of itself, but there was a bigger issue. You see, to further guarantee that magicians who visited the booth would not figure out the secret while fooling around with the prop, Micky had taken to switching the gaffed blade for an un-gaffed version after the trick was done. So, in this instance, the boy’s mother was about to walk away with an ung-affed chopper and no instruction. Micky called out to her, “Hey, why don’t you leave that here, and I’ll explain it to your boy while you look around.” Crisis averted.
Sidenote: Josh Kaplan kindly told me a bit more about the history of the Micky Hades Finger Chopper. After graduating from high school, Kaplan became Micky’s apprentice from 1975 to 1980. During that time, he sanded, prepped, and packaged hundreds of finger choppers, and he performed it every Sunday night as the house magician at the Japanese Village Steak House in downtown Calgary. After Micky retired, Kaplan bought the rights to produce the chopper, promising that the name “Micky Hades” would always appear on it.
As Micky was telling the previous story, I couldn’t help imagining that sixteen-year-old boy growing up to be some prominent magician. When I mentioned this, Micky told me the following anecdote. I’ll try to convey this in a way that captures the audio recording of our interview because it is perfect.
“Oh no, no, but I’ll tell you who did turn out to be big. Aahhh — that guy who is in Vegas now…” Pause. “You know, he had a name he took from a book…” Another pause.
“Copperfield?” I offer.
“Copperfield! Yes! I knew him since he was a little boy, and he was a brat.”
I erupt in laughter.
“Everybody hated him,” Micky continues. “He used to come down to the dealers’ room, because I was always in the dealers’ room, and he used to go around to all the dealers and go ‘What’s this, what’s that?’ And they would have to say ‘Hey, look kid, just leave that alone.’ I remember he used to go around with a top hat on his little head, and everyone would be trying to get rid of him.”
More laughter from me as Micky adds, with a big grin, “Yeah, and no one would ever know that he would become as big as he did.”
It was a joy to hang out with Micky and see his massive private library all meticulously organized and labeled. The photos I took do not do it justice, just like these few stories don’t come close to what it would be like to hear them from him. Even the wild rabbits know, Micky is the real deal.
My special thanks to John Kaplan, Paul Romhany of Vanish magazine and Aaron Sterling for providing additional information for this article as well as David Parr for his edits.
We all have those fantastic pieces in our collection that go constantly overlooked. Recently I’ve been attempting to sort through my clothes and part with anything that doesn’t fit my style or is a bit worn out. However, this practice has revealed a third category of neglected clothing, the tragically uncomfortable but insanely beautiful. Most of these are sequined, maybe it’s the magician or the children’s entertainer in me that craved sparkly garbage, but it can’t be helped.
I’ve had this amazing navy blue sequined dress for over a year now. I thrifted it in Reno and it was love at first sight, unfortunately, when I got it home the relationship became somewhat hostile. The tiny scratchy sequin which had been used in the garment combined with the cut of the dress to add up to a sort of cheese grater effect. It would scrap up my underarms and chest after an hour of wear, epic dress fail.
I see this in some of the sequined outfits to come out of the “fast fashion” industry all the time; built to look amazing on the rack but wears like a monk’s hair shirt. So toss it? No! The sparkle is just too amazing, it must be saved! What to do? Hmm…….Ahh!
With just a couple snips and a quick run through the serger this torture device is transformed into a stylish high-waisted skirt.
Simply measure and pin the best place for your cut, either on a dress form, against another high-waisted garment or right on your body. Zip the zipper down so you can still use it to fasten your new skirt, cut with very sharp fabric shears, turn inside out and surge the seam along the waist line. Stick up the new top of the zipper and tada! Skirt!
Paired with grays and blacks you can dress down the sparkle for everyday casual wear. I’ve added some layers to help make it winter-worthy and made this shirt a comfortable and elegant addition to my wardrobe.
Yay! Vlogging again!! This one is about the 5 Types of Persistent Clutter #Minimalism
In this video I wanted to talk about the different types of clutter that seem to haunt me.
Last night in Calgary was the screening of Pyramid Production’s Documentary “Girl on Fire” staring female magician, yours truly. It was amazing to see it up on the big screen and hear the laugher from the audience, just a compleatly thrill.
We also screened a little pre-show video featuring some of my funniest friends who were not in attendance.
Thank you so much to everyone for coming out to the screening yesterday! I’m so grateful that all of you took the time, it means the world to me.
Thx to Justin Wondga for all the great photos!
Before the theatrical screening at the plaza theatre last night we aired this video, huge hit!
Special thank you to:
Ryan Dubya Stock, AmberLynn Walker & Nick Diffatte