The Magic Castle

For Mark's birthday, a big group of us joined him for dinner and performances at The Magic Castle on Sunday. It's a restaurant, performance venue, and home to The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. It's a sort of trade association for practicing magicians. There are about 2,500 members who put on shows and share tricks of the trade. To become a Magician Member, you have to perform a magic routine in front of membership reviewing committee.

The dinner, pulled from a steakhouse-like menu, was pricey and not so magical, but built into the price is the opportunity to watch practicing magicians performing in various venues around the mansion. The first performer was 28 year old Danny Cole, twice voted "Stage Magician of the Year" by members of the Magic Castle (perhaps if I keep writing the words Magic Castle enough times, the impulse to snicker will subside). Cole's show was very impressive, in particular because of his smooth stagecraft.

Downstairs, an invisible ghost, Irma, will take requests while holding court on a grand piano. You just say your requests towards the empty seat, and Irma will begin playing (read: the piano begins playing itself) if she knows the tune. Her repertoire is surprisingly vast. From obscure national anthems to contemporary hits and everything in between, Irma rattled off one tune after another.

Neddy finally stumped Irma, though, with this request: "Irma, do you know 'Sexy Back' by Justin Timberlake?"

Irma responded with a three dissonant descending notes, like the disappointing sounds they play when you choose poorly on a TV game show. Someone else jumped in, "How about Britney?"

Irma quickly banged out a rendition of "Oops I Did It Again."