Magician pulls 'Victory' out of his hat


In Jim Conner's mind, war is a tricky thing indeed.

Tricky as in six cards, 13 steps and some nimble maneuvering of hand and eye.

That's the gist of his recently created magic trick "Desert Victory," in which a would-be magician puts U.S. troops (represented on cards by American flags) through several moves in the Saudi desert (blank beige-colored cards), eventually taking the desert by storm and achieving victory.

For the 63-year-old magician who lives in Catonsville, the inspiration for the trick came while hearing Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf on the radio.

"You have to remember that magicians are an eccentric group," he says. "I was listening and I saw an American flag on a card symbolizing our American boys. I saw them conquering the desert."

Mr. Conner, who first got interested in magic at age 10 after seeing Blackstone at the Hippodrome, has been working on his "magicreation" virtually non-stop for the past three weeks.

He recently sent the trick and a videotape of himself performing it to General Schwarzkopf and President Bush. "If they ever get to see it, I hope it would give them a smile," he says.

While some might see "Desert Victory" as a way of trivializing or profiting from the war, the opposite is true, he says. "I certainly didn't do it for profit. I did it for fun and entertainment. I hope it will give people a laugh. That's my contribution. It's to take our minds away from the total seriousness of war," he says.

A dozen "Desert Victory" card tricks, priced at $6 apiece, have been sold at the Funhouse Magic Shop in Northeast Baltimore, says co-owner Lou Walston. "It's cute," he says, "but I'm surprised there aren't more flag tricks out now."

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