cups and balls

The Science of Magic - Talk at Google

Recently, Gustav Kuhn gave a talk at Google about his book Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic. The talk begins with a demonstration of one of my all-time favourite tricks, “The Cups & Balls” and goes into a discussion of perception, blindspots, memory and how the mind puts it all together.

There is one great comment he lets slip casually that pretty much sums it all up:

Intuitively we believe that if we’re looking at something, we should be able to see it.

The questions period at the end is remarkable with the audience offering some wonderfully insightful questions with great answers as well.

Gustav Kuhn is the director of the MAGIC lab at the Department of Psychology at the Goldsmith University of London, where he uses magic to study a wide range of psychological questions, around consciousness, attention, perception, magical beliefs, deception and free will.

Experiencing the Impossible is available from fine booksellers everywhere.

Last week on Magic Tonight

I had a wonderful time performing last week on Magic Tonight. Typically I have friends and guests on the show but this week I was flying solo. I got to do some material from my old one-man show, Lies, Damn Lies & Magic Tricks and develop some new material (there's a Playboy Magazine in there for some reason!) If you haven't seen the show, take a look at what goes on.

Magic Tonight is performed weekly in Mississauga and Toronto. Readers of this blog can use the code reality for a discount on the price of tickets and dinner when purchasing online.

The Naked News

James Alan Naked News
James Alan Naked News

Somewhere, somehow, there is someone who thinks that my normal performances aren't strange enough. And that person has access to a video camera. My interview/performance The Naked News was posted in a segment called "The Schmooze".

See what others are saying about the clip:

Spencer Malone
Spencer Malone

In order to view the clip, you need to be a subscriber to The Naked News. Or you can skip all that and just click here.

Wendy's Magic

Back in June, along with several other magicians, I was asked to film a series of short pieces to help promote a new product being introduced by Wendy's Canada - the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. Tied in with the magic is the chance to win a trip to Las Vegas. This was originally intended to be a project using faked magic (actors performing with camera tricks) but instead Wendy's opted for real magicians performing with no trick photography. Everything was shot continuously in one take (although there are multiple camera angles for better visibility). The result was the online ad campaign Expect to be Amazed.


The hardest part of the project is the name: try saying "Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger" over over again - it's hard to say on camera, and I don't think any of us got it right in less than three takes.

Now that the product has been launched, the videos that were shot here in Toronto are being released one by one every few days through Wendy's Canada's Facebook page and YouTube Channel. You can watch my performances along with Mike Segal (Canada's Magician of the Year) and David "Baldini" Grossfield. More are coming, so follow and like to see them all.

And of course, get yourself to a Wendy's so you can try the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburgerbefore they all disappear.

Part 1: An Empty Paper Bag


Part 2: The Cups & Balls


More performance video...