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Actor, singer, magician, past-president of the Academy of Magical Arts Neil Patrick Harris is a swell guy. Win this contest and you’ll get flown to New York to hang around with him at the zoo for the day! Only six days left to try your luck, ending on January 17.

Marc Maron has interviewed an impressive variety of talented and intelligent individuals over the years on WTF, a podcast he began back in 2009. This week, Maron sat down for interviews with two distinct practitioners and lovers of magic: Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Alexander.

In episode 903, which originally published back on April 2, 2018, Harris talks about growing up in New Mexico, going to Jack Nicholson’s house, seeing magic at the state fair (always get the Indian fry bread), and the human element behind magic. The discussion begins around the 27 minute mark, and you can download the episode directly here.

Then, on episode 904, which originally published on April 5, 2018, Maron talks with Jason Alexander, who talks about his time on Seinfeld in addition to learning magic as a child to cope with his own awkwardness, performing at the Magic Castle, and how much his wife hates his own obsession with magic. There’s also an inordinate amount of talk about the McDLT, which Alexander shilled for in this aggressively 80’s commercial. You can download the episode here.

Spend your lazy Sunday listening to these two great interviews with two great illusionists by checking out the respective links above or subscribing to WTF on iTunes, or via the RSS RSS feed.

(Shout out to reader Peter for the tip!)

UPDATE (3/15/2018): The AMA is over, but you can catch the entire discussion over at Reddit via this link here.

Original story:

Who doesn’t secretly wish they could get inside Neil Patrick Harris’ head? The man seems to be wildly successful at everything he does, whether it’s acting or producing, singing or card-slinging, and he looks good doing all of it.

For those who want that sneak peek into his mind, you’ll have your chance. NPH announced on Twitter that he is hosting an AMA on Reddit. That’s “ask me anything,” where any person can make any query they choose of the entertainer on the online forum. Whether said celeb chooses to answer a question is at their own discretion, but these AMAs still can provide fascinating insights.

He’ll be hosting the AMA on Thursday, March 15, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern/10:30 Pacific. We’ll update with a link to the Reddit thread once it exists, or he’ll probably share it out from Twitter.

Back in November, actor and magician Neil Patrick Harris released the first entry of his middle-grade novel series The Magic Misfits to rave reviews (including our own), and has since spent seven weeks on the the New York Times bestseller list. If you or your children have been clamoring for the further magical exploits of Carter Locke and his cadre of conjurers, Entertainment Weekly has you covered with an exclusive first look at the next chapter of the series.

Simply subtitled The Second Story, the book will continue the Misfits’ adventures, this time with a larger focus on Leila Vernon. Leila was an orphan before being adopted by her two loving fathers, and has since grown into her talents as an expert escape artist. Not much else is known about the plot of the book, but expect it to have the same playful tone as the previous book, along with secrets, codes, and actual magic tricks to learn.

Entertainment Weekly has the full scoop on its site, including exclusive cover art and non-final page excerpts from the book featuring more gorgeous illustrations from Lissy Marlin. You can pre-order the book ahead of its September 25, 2018 release date on Amazon.

There is a time in a child’s life that is, for want of a better word, magical. That handful of years when they’re old enough to have their own ideas and motivations, but not yet so old that they’re too cool to hang out with their parents. It’s an age that Neil Patrick Harris has captured perfectly in The Magic Misfits, both in the adventures of his youthful protagonists and also in what the book offers young readers. It speaks to kids on their level, not what an adult think their level is. It’s earnest without being saccharine or preachy, and it’s a heck of a good time.

The book stars Carter, a young runaway who finds himself in the town of Mineral Wells. Carter’s pretty good at sleight-of-hand and soon falls in with a gaggle of kids who also enjoy different aspects of magic. Together, they take on B. B. Bosso, a carnival-running thief who’s come to town and is planning a heist of monumental proportions. It’s a fast-paced, freewheeling romp that swoops from one exciting scene to the next, peppering in memorable characters along the way. It’s a pace that doesn’t leave a lot of room for deep emotional development, but it’s ideal for holding the attention of young readers.

The Magic Misfits is also packed with secrets just waiting for eager readers to uncover. It brilliantly smashes the fourth wall, speaking directly to its audience in a conspiratorial way that makes them feel like part of the inner circle. This works not only when the book takes time between chapters to teach actual magic tricks that kids will be able to do with just a little prep, but also when it helps them with new vocabulary words like ‘vagabond’. The Magic Misfits never, ever talks down to its reader, creating an environment that fuels curiosity and encourages learning and experimentation. The magic tricks will take practice, it says, lots and lots of practice, but hey, have snacks in between. Take a nap. Then maybe practice some more, yeah?

You don’t have to be particularly interested in magic in order to enjoy The Magic Misfits; even a passing appreciation will do. Learning how certain tricks are done feeds into the book’s air of secrecy, or more precisely the fun that comes from knowing secrets. In addition to learning how certain illusions are done, readers will discover a few hidden codes that they can repurpose for their own clandestine message needs. This is all presented in a way that fosters independence, but also safety – the grownups in The Magic Misfits know what’s going on, but don’t hover over their children. The kids are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, get into scrapes and then get themselves back out.

Perhaps The Magic Misfits’ greatest achievement is how effortlessly it espouses the idea that everyone is different, and that’s no big deal. One character, Ridley, is in a wheelchair, but her inability to walk is never used as a dramatic plot point or as a reason for her to pontificate about the cruel hand she’s been dealt. She does everything the other kids do, whether that’s going for a ride on the Ferris wheel, dancing, or fleeing Bosso’s goons. Another misfit, Leila, was adopted by her two dads, Mr. Vernon (a sly wink at the famous Canadian magician) and The Other Mr. Vernon, which is treated as no more unusual than young Theo’s (whose last name is Stein-Meyer, heh) preference to wear a tuxedo every day. Grownups tend to think kids need to be hit over the head with lessons in order to absorb them, but The Magic Misfits knows the truth: kids are pretty sharp. It places emphasis on the stuff that matters, like trust and friendship, and lets the other details inform the characters without defining them.

When you’re a kid in that handful of magical years before you think you know everything, there’s always one book that finds a permanent place in your heart. A worn and dog-eared copy goes with you as you move through your life, following you even into adulthood. For me, that book is The Phantom Tollbooth. I still have the copy I read as a child. The Magic Misfits has the potential to be that book for a whole new generation of curious minds as they begin to explore their own abilities. It is wholly without cynicism, offering marvelous storytelling and characters worth knowing. If you have a clever kid in your life, The Magic Misfits should be in their library.

Buy The Magic Misfits from Amazon

Every day is a good day to watch the multi-talented Neil Patrick Harris in action. He’s been on the press junket talking up his book The Magic Misfits, the first in a new series for kids. The Magic Misfits is more than just a chapter book; it has lots of other secrets and Easter eggs and teaches its readers a few magic tricks to boot. Harris showed off one of them in an appearance on Good Morning America, teaching the hosts how to roll a quarter along their knuckles to practice dexterity.

“Magic’s my thing,” he said. “I’ve loved it for a long time.” Harris reminisced about the store that fed his early fascination with magic and talked about how he enjoys that his young kids see him as a wizard.

Neil Patrick Harris is really blowing the curve for the rest of us. He’s won a Tony award, several Emmys, he’s been president of The Magic Castle’s board of directions, and published a best-selling autobiography. It’d sure be great if he’d slow down for a second and let the rest of us catch up, but nope! Instead he’s kicking off a four-city tour for The Magic Misfits, the first book in a new series he’s writing.

The story of the Misfits actually sounds pretty great: Carter is a street magician who runs away to a New England town and gets together with other magicians and has to deal with the nefarious activities of a group of carnies led by B.B. Bosso. (Maybe this is actually another autobiography.) Also, check this out from the book’s description on Amazon: 

(Psst. Hey, you! Yes, you! Congratulations on reading this far. As a reward, I’ll let you in on a little secret… This book isn’t just a book. It’s a treasure trove of secrets and ciphers and codes and even tricks. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover more than just a story–you’ll learn how to make your own magic!)

Harris’ book tour will take place the first week of December and hit Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Woodridge, Illinois. The Magic Misfits will be available starting November 21.