After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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One of the challenges I face when writing the Marketplace column is deciding how much space to allot to any given item. I think that in-depth reviews (such as the reviews of The Linking Ring on CD-ROM or the Don Alan book) can provide valuable information for consumers, but doing these reviews limits the number of products that can appear each month. I'm going to try a compromise: This month you'll find short reviews of lots of products that have been backlogged. Next month you'll find longer reviews of several new books, including Jim Steinmeyer's new edition of The Complete Jarrett, Simon Aronson's Try the Impossible, several new books of interest to the mentalist, and Punx's Once Upon a Time.

The Joys of Magic

By Emil Loew. 8.5 x 11, plastic comb bound. 98 pages. $22.50 postpaid in the US. From Emil Loew, 1120 99th Street, #403, Bay Harbor Islands, FL 33154

Emil Loew has had a long love affair with magic. He was born in the Netherlands in 1910. He was forced to flee his homeland during World War II, and eventually ended up in New York City. He worked a variety of jobs and became acquainted with many of the magicians in New York. Mr. Loew was successful in the business world and he performed magic as a part-time pro. In 1967 he started the Magicians Lecturing Service that brought more than 60 magicians to the United States from overseas.

In The Joys of Magic, Mr. Loew recounts stories from his life in magic. At the age of 91 he retains both an enthusiasm for magic, and a fondness for the many friends he has made. Historians will certainly want to add this book to their collections. The book is unfortunately marred by very poor production values. Desktop publishing allows even self-published books to have a professional appearance. Sadly, few of these resources seem to have been used in the production of The Joys of Magic.

New Self-Working Card Tricks

By Karl Fulves. 6 x 9 softcover. 144 pages. $5.95. ISBN 0-486-41371-3. From Dover Publications, Inc. Available from most bookstores. Web site: www.doverpublications.com.

Karl Fulves continues his series of "Self-Working" magic tricks with this new book of easy-to-do card tricks. The 95 tricks are divided into categories such as Impromptu Card Tricks, Tests for ESP, Die-Ceptions With Cards, Tricks With Aces, Rouge Et Noir, and Games of Chance. Joseph K. Schmidt has provided over 100 illustrations.

As with his previous books for Dover, Fulves has provided the beginning magician with some excellent material. In addition to his own creations, Fulves has adapted tricks from such luminaries as Martin Gardner, Stewart James, Jack Avis, J.K. Hartman, Walter Gibson, John Scarne, Joseph Dunninger, Sam Schwartz, and Frank Garcia. The book itself is gaffed to allow you to perform a book test.

I own all of the books that Fulves has released through Dover Publications, and I recommend them all. The beginner will find some excellent tricks that require little technical facility, and the more experienced magician will find a wealth of ideas that can be tweaked with the addition of a little "muscle magic." At $5.95, New Self-Working Card Tricks is an enormous bargain, and should find a place on your bookshelf.

CAB 2000

By Dustin Marks. Mac/PC hybrid CD-ROM. $49.95 postpaid when ordered from directly from www.dustinmarks.com. Also available from your favorite magic shop.

Dustin Marks is the author of Cheating at Blackjack and Cheating at Blackjack Squared. CAB 2000 contains material from both books, plus new and updated information. You receive a hybrid CD-ROM that is playable on a Mac or a PC. When you put the disc in your CD-ROM drive it autoplays, bringing up an introductory menu. This menu allows you to install a codec that is needed to play the video clips. (Make sure you install this codec, it has no negative effects on your system.) After installing the codec, click on the "Skip Intro" option. You're not going to miss anything. This brings you to the main menu, offering two choices, Moves and Mockery. The Moves section will be of most interest to magicians. Included are methods of getting cards out of play, hand mucking moves, methods for stacking cards, hole card moves, methods for ringing in coolers, methods for returning cards to play, and miscellaneous moves. The information is presented in Adobe Acrobat format, which provides both text and photographic illustrations. In addition, many of the moves have video clips, so you can actually see the moves in action. The combination of text, illustrations, and video clips makes it easy to understand what's happening with the moves. (Be aware, however, that this is not really a teaching tape. The moves are demonstrated, but they are not thoroughly explained. Anyone with any card handling ability will be able to figure out what's going on.)

By the way, when you are presented with the main screen, there is a Help File option. Click this before you do anything else. Navigating around CAB 2000 is not particularly intuitive, and the Help File will aid you, especially when you try to navigate back to the main screen.

The second half of CAB 2000, titled Mockery, contains interviews, articles, photos, and "stuff." This is very much a mixed bag of information about gambling and the casino industry.

All in all, I found CAB 2000 to be informative and entertaining. If you have an interest in the methods of the casino card cheat, I'm sure you will find this CD-ROM to be of value.

The Best of Randy Wakeman Ed Marlo: Thirty-five Years Later

Michael Gallo: The Dynasty Continues

From Randy Wakeman. See below for individual prices. From Randy Wakeman, 12362 S. Oxford Lane, Plainfield, IL 60544. Fax: 815-254-2339. Email: [email protected].

Here are three more videotapes from Randy Wakeman. The first, titled The Best of Randy Wakeman: Miracles with the Audience in Mind ($29.95 plus $3.50 p&h) contains ten card effects. These are variations of familiar card plots, including Spectator Cuts the Aces, the Jennings Revelation, Devilish Miracle, Card in Wallet (using the Mullica Wallet), Twisting the Aces, The Dream Card, the Clock Effect, and a Multiple Selection/Revelation routine. There are thousands of variations of these plots in print. Should you learn the ones Randy has to offer? Well, that's a hard question to answer. Randy's version of the Spectator Cuts the Aces, titled Spectator on Stage, is one of the best versions available. In fact, this method has been published several times in the recent past, and unfortunately Randy has not received the credit he deserved. Randy's version of the Jennings Revelation is also a little easier than the original. Otherwise, I'm afraid that I don't consider any of the rest of the material to be improvements, just personalizations. One big problem is that Randy really isn't a performer. The performances are pedestrian, infused with trite patter lines (example: "I say 'shiffle' because I can't say 'shuffle"). If you are a fan of Wakeman's work you may want to add this tape to your collection, but if you have enough skill to perform Randy's effects you probably already have acceptable versions of these effects in your repertoire.

Ed Marlo: Thirty-five Years Later ($35 postpaid) is a videotape of a lecture that Ed gave in St. Louis in 1986. Marlo had not lectured in 35 years, hence the title of the video. The video is one hour long, and can best be considered amateur video. The video quality is acceptable, but there are no close-ups; this was a single, stationary camera shoot. The sound quality is rather poor, the worst thing being that there was a party going on in the room next to the lecture room. You can hear the music pounding through the walls as Ed lectures.

This is an all-card-trick lecture, and there are some clever routines, including a sneaky version of the Stop Trick, The Money Sandwich (a version of Elmsley's Between Your Palms), and Female, a very commercial version of the Fred Trick. In this latter trick a female spectator (let's call her Mary) is asked to name any card in the deck. The card she names is removed from the deck. The other 51 cards are shown to have names written on their backs. All the names are male names. The card Mary chose is turned over. Not only is it the only card with a female name, it has the name Mary on it. While this version is amazing and memorable, it has a serious drawback. The spectators cannot examine the card with Mary on its back. You should be aware that a few of the effects Ed demonstrates are not explained. (Ed did provide notes for this lecture. They are titled Thirty-five Years Later and you can probably track down a copy.) Ed seemed to be relaxed and in very good spirits during this lecture. (I especially enjoyed the reminiscences of pranks played on customers of the Treasure Chest magic shop.) Fans of Marlo who never had a chance to see him in action will certainly enjoy this tape.

You may be familiar with Michael Gallo through his contributions to such magazines as Richard's Almanac and Apocalypse. He is a very skillful close-up magician whose coin work is especially good. Michael Gallo: The Dynasty Continues ($29.95 plus $3.50 p&h) presents eight routines that will delight the upper-intermediate close-up worker. Six coin routines are presented. They include Presto Change-o Mike-o (coins change from silver to copper and back with a Chinese coin kicker), Jumpback (a Coins Across routine with a backfire kicker), Splitting the Silver (a silver dollars splits into two halves, then into four quarters), and Backfire Coins Through the Table (the name says it all). Non-coin items include Silent Mike, Mora Mike (a handling of the Balls in the Net, sans net) and Cutting the Aces Plus.

Michael Gallo's material is well constructed, and he performs the routines beautifully. The biggest problem with this video is that the performances were shot in a noisy bar using a single camera. The bar noise almost drowns out Michael's voice. The explanations were shot in more subdued setting, and you will be able to learn the routines from Michael's explanations. Michael Gallo: The Dynasty Continues contains material that will certainly appeal to the coin worker. Be aware, however, that some of these routines will require some work. It is a pity, however, that the production values are so poor. Material of this caliber deserves a more professional presentation.

Show Off II

By Brian Tudor. $25. Available from your favorite magic dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Orders: 800-853-7403. Fax: 916-853-9494. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com.

Those of you who enjoy flourishes (and who don't mind some serious practice) will want to take a look at Brian Tudor's Show Off II, a sequel to Brian's first flourish tape. The production values have increased, and the material will again bust your knuckles. A problem with this video, however, is that five of the eight items are variations of flourishes that appeared on the first video. However, those that love the flourishy stuff are always looking for new ways to spin those cards around, and Show Off II will certainly fit the bill.

The Ultimate Levitation

From Splashes Creative Services. $11,000 plus shipping. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.splashescreative.com

I don't often get the chance to review an illusion in this column. Bob Kohler suggested that I visit Bob North at Splashes Creative Services and take a look at his Ultimate Levitation. I'm glad I did. This is a seriously clever piece of machinery.

You can see a picture of the levitation on page 5 of the January 2001 issue of MAGIC. Unfortunately, the picture does not do justice to the illusion. The levitation is performed on a stage built on a triangular framework. This stage stands 21 inches high and is 78 inches across. The illusion does not need a black backdrop, nor are there special lighting considerations. You can also perform it well in front of the backdrop. The ad copy is slightly deceptive, but I'm not going to tell you why, because that would tip the method. Let me just tell you that it seems impossible that the assistant would rise to the height she does, since you can see underneath the illusion and the base stands 22 inches off the floor.

Several things about Bob North's company impressed me on my visit. First was the ingenuity of the design. Second was the commitment to quality control. Each of the levitation units is tested hundreds of times before the illusion leaves the shop. Third, Bob can do custom work, and can modify this illusion to fit your needs.

Obviously, this is not cheap, but no quality illusion ever is. If this is a prop you think you can use, you will not be disappointed in The Ultimate Levitation. Contact Bob via email for more information.

Say Cheese

By Mike Bent. $22.50 plus $2 p&h. From Mike Bent, P.O. Box 79080, Belmont, MA 02479. Email: [email protected]

Here is a wonderfully goofy trick from the wonderfully goofy Mike Bent. The effect is based on Michael Kaznetsis' Polageist in which an image of a selected card magically appears on a Polaroid photograph. Say Cheese uses the Polaroid Joy Cam compact instant camera. Mike provides you with a variety of images, including playing cards, cheese, UFOs, and pentagrams. It is a simple matter to gaff the camera with one of the images. You then position the spectator in the viewfinder, snap a picture, and when the picture develops there is an extra, eerie image on the photograph. Because of the design of the images you'll want to steer toward a lighthearted presentation rather than a serious demonstration of psychic ability. (Visualize Uri Geller performing in Toontown.) Simple to do, simple to set-up, and the gaffs are reusable. If the effect appeals, Say Cheese is worth checking out.


By R. Paul Wilson. $15.00. Available from your favorite magic dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Orders: 800-853-7403. Fax: 916-853-9494. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com.

For the past couple of months Scotland's R. Paul Wilson has been visiting the United States. He performed and lectured at the Convention at the Capitol and at the Magic Castle. He lectured here in Las Vegas and also made a mini-tour down the East Coast. If you are attending the I.B.M. convention in Orlando, you'll have a chance to visit with Paul, as he'll be dropping by that get together. If you've had the chance to watch Paul work during this tour, then you already know about Ricochet, one of the most eye-popping tricks you'll ever see. Unfortunately, words really don't do justice to how amazing this trick is.

Here's what happens. The magician brings out an opaque handkerchief and asks two spectators to hold it by the corners, forming an impromptu platform. The magician removes the aces and the kings from a deck of cards. Only these eight cards are used. The kings are placed face down onto the handkerchief. The magician holds the aces face up. One at a time each ace turns into the king of the corresponding suit. This continues until the magician holds four face up kings. The magician reaches for the four face down cards that rest on the handkerchief and says, "If these are now the kings, then these must be the." He flips over the face down cards with his right hand. They are the kings! By the time the spectator looks back at the cards in the magician's left hand they have changed back into the aces. The cards are tossed to the spectators. They can be examined.

Ricochet is a variation of Paul Harris' very popular trick Reset. Paul Wilson offers two different handlings. One handling requires intermediate level sleight-of-hand. The second handling is sleight free. Curiously, both handlings play equally well for a lay audience. This means that regardless of your skill level you can perform this very strong piece of magic. In addition, the clean up is very simple and very deceptive. The spectators have eight genuine cards in their hands at the end, leaving no possibility that the method will be discovered.

Ricochet is a really fine trick. It is a fooler for both laymen and magicians. It will require some planning to incorporate it into a series of tricks, but this is always the case when you perform a trick that uses gaffed cards. I had the opportunity to watch Paul perform this on several occasions, and the reaction left nothing to be desired.

Ricochet gets my vote as one of the hot card tricks of 2001. Highly recommended.

Triple Vision Deja Vu Deck Deep Guilt Aces

By David Regal. See below for individual prices. Available from your favorite magic dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Orders: 800-853-7403. Fax: 916-853-9494. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com.

Three of the strongest tricks in the recent David Regal videotapes (reviewed in last month's Marketplace) required the use of gaffed decks. Many magicians are reluctant to put in the time and effort to make up such decks. If you fall into that group you'll be delighted to know that Murphy's Magic Supplies is now selling Triple Vision, Deja Vu Deck, and Deep Guilt Aces. All three tricks come with the necessary gaffs and complete, well-illustrated instructions. Here are the effects of the three tricks.

In Triple Vision ($19.95), the magician realizes that the blue-backed deck he is using is short three cards. The spectators remove three cards from a red-backed deck. These cards are placed into the blue-backed deck. Suddenly, the magician discovers that the three missing blue-backed cards have been in his pocket all the time. These blue-backed cards are turned face up. They match the three red-backed cards that were selected by the spectators. Absolutely no sleight-of-hand is required.

In the Deja Vu Deck ($19.95), a spectator names any of the 52 cards. The magician removes a deck and shows that all the faces are blank. One of the blank-faced cards is removed and placed between the spectator's hands. The blank card changes into the named selection.

Deep Guilt Aces ($15.00) is my favorite effect of the three. A spectator cuts the deck into four piles. The top card of each pile is placed face down in front of each pile. The top cards of the four piles are turned over as the magician discusses what would have happened had the spectator cut one card deeper. The four cards on top of the piles are indifferent cards. The four cards in front of the piles are turned over. They are the four aces. This was one of the tricks on the Regal videos that caused me to instantly hit the rewind button. It fooled me, and it would probably fool you. The deck involved is gaffed to the hilt, so you're going to have to figure out some type of deck switch if you want to incorporate this trick into a series of card routines. It's worth the effort though, because the trick looks extremely clean and is a deep mystery.

If you own the Regal videos you may want to take a second look at these tricks and decide if you want to go to the trouble to make them up yourself. My guess is that you'll come to the conclusion that it's easier just to pick them up from your favorite magic dealer. The three tricks are reasonably priced, they are real foolers, and all are worth your serious consideration.

The Ring in the Card Case

By Gary Plants. $25 plus $4 p&h. From Gary Plants, 2212 Bay Haven Way, League City, TX 77573. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://home.att.net/~cardman1/.

Here's another beautifully made gaff from Gary Plants. Gary has expanded on a Peter Kane idea to allow you to do the following effect. A finger ring is borrowed from a spectator. It vanishes. The magician picks up an empty playing card box that has been sitting on the table since before the trick began. He shakes the box. Something inside the box rattles. The box is cleanly shown on all sides. There are no openings that would allow anything to enter the box. The flap of the box is opened. The borrowed ring is dumped out.

In the original Peter Kane idea there was a hole cut in the bottom of the box. A small coin (like a dime) is taped to the inside of the box. This produced a "rattle" noise when the box was shaken. The use of this "rattle gaff' allowed the ring to be loaded into the box after the spectators thought that there was already something in it. (In Erdnase's words we have changed the moment.) In Gary's version there is no rattle gimmick, but the box can be cleanly shown on all sides and no opening is visible. Because of the strength of this, Gary believes that no rattle gaff is necessary. If you prefer the pre-load rattle aspect it is easy to tape a coin into Gary's gaffed box.

Some sleight-of-hand is necessary, in particular you will need a convincing "put" or "take" vanish. I have not yet incorporated this trick into my Houdini Lounge repertoire, but I will tell you that Gary makes very sturdy gaffs, so the card box should function effectively for many performances. (As an aside I should tell you that I am still using the original Magnetized Cards gaff that Gary sent me in October of last year.) Gary provides you with a basic routine, but this is the type of trick that you will want to adapt to your personal mannerisms. The Ring in the Card Box is a beautifully made prop and I recommend it.

(Two important notes: Gary can modify the card box to accommodate a left-handed performer. If you do not specifically request a left-handed model you will get one designed for a right-handed person. Also, Gary can only accept checks or money orders. Please do not send him a credit card order.)

The Intricate Web of Distraction

By Whit Haydn. See below for individual prices. From Tricks of the Trade, Inc., 6213 Sacramento Ave., Alta Loma, CA 91701. Fax: 909-466-4550. Website: www.chefanton.com.

The Color-Changing Knives has long been a favorite trick for the close-up magician. The props are familiar to an audience, and can be conveniently carried in a pocket. However, there is a weakness in most Color-Changing Knives routines. As Whit Haydn states, "When you make the knives change color, the audience immediately wants to re-examine them. They suspect that there must be something tricky about those knives. In order to evade the inevitable, 'Let me see the knife!' a routine must be carefully constructed to develop either enough momentum, or enough distractions, or both, so that the spectators do not have time to make or even think of such an annoying and logical request."

Whit Haydn developed his knife routine, titled The Intricate Web of Distraction, in the late 1970s. He has performed it hundreds of times in every possible performance venue, from the trade show floor to the Close-up Gallery of the Magic Castle. The routine was originally released to the magic community in 1989. It has now been revised and updated.

Whit's routine is simple and direct. A white knife is removed from the left pants pocket. The spectators examine it. The knife vanishes and reappears in the pocket. The magician now claims that he can make the knife vanish from his right hand. This he does by creating an Intricate Web of Distraction. The knife changes from white to black. The white knife appears in the left hand. The knives change places several times. Finally, the magician does as promised and the white knife vanishes from the right hand.

Whit offers this routine in two formats: manuscript form ($10 plus $5 p&h) or video format ($30 plus $5 p&h). In either case you'll get the complete details, including all the patter and an analysis of the psychology involved. Whit also sells a set of three knives made by Joe Mogar ($75 plus $5 p&h). The knives are well made and handle beautifully.

I like this routine because it is simple to follow, is practical under a variety of conditions, and needs no reset time. It has been honed under fire for more than 20 years. If you are looking for a Color-Changing Knife routine, The Intricate Web of Distraction certainly fits the bill and is worth your serious consideration. Recommended.

Pre-View A Bic Too Far

Table Hopper's Coin in Bottle Pass the Parcel

By Mark Leveridge. See below for individual prices. From Mark Leveridge Magic, 13A Lyndhurst Road, Exeter EX2 4PA, England. Fax: 01392 435725. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.markleveridge.co.uk.

England's Mark Leveridge sent along several new items from his catalog. Pre-View ($20 postpaid) is a card trick with an interesting twist. A spectator removes a card from the deck (free choice). This card is kept face down and is placed into a small envelope. Another card is now selected and noted by the spectator. The magician makes a magical gesture. The deck is spread face up. The card noted by the spectator is no longer in the deck. The envelope is now opened and the card that had been previously placed there is removed. It is the card that vanished from the deck. Pre-View uses a couple of simple gaffs to accomplish its effect. The routine is easy to do and would certainly play well for laymen. Two possible drawbacks are that the selected card is not signed (although the selection process is pretty fair) and that the envelope is in contact with the deck when the first card is placed into it. This effect previously appeared in Mark's book Forever Flapping ($40 postpaid).

The Table Hopper's Coin into Bottle ($40 postpaid) was designed to overcome some of the problems inherent in performing Coin in Bottle in strolling venues. Mark's version does not use a beverage bottle, nor does it use a folding coin. The magician brings out a small (2 inches high - 1.5 inches in diameter) pill bottle with a screw-on lid. Opening the bottle he dumps out some coins (a few nickels and dimes and one quarter). The nickels and dimes are replaced in the bottle and the top is screwed on. The quarter is placed in the left hand. The right hand picks up the bottle and strikes it against the left palm. The quarter vanishes. The bottle is opened and the coins are dumped out. The quarter has penetrated the bottle. All the coins are replaced in the bottle, which is capped and put away. (Those who stroll for a living will be happy to know that you are now reset for the next performance.) I understand Mark's desire to eliminate the use of a large bottle and to avoid the use of a folding coin (which might possibly break in performance), but my vote goes to the more traditional method for Coin in Bottle. Mark's routine replaces the use of a common item (a beer bottle) for an item that no layman has ever seen (a pill bottle with a weird label on the outside). Some clarity is lost because Mark's version requires that there be other coins in the bottle. There is also a visual element lost because the spectators do not see the coin enter the bottle. The Table Hopper's Coin into Bottle may be useful for the strolling magician, but my choice would be to use the traditional method and relegate the trick to those occasions when it is natural to grab an empty bottle off the bar and perform a situationally motivated effect.

A Bic Too Far ($30 postpaid) is an easy manipulation routine in which a miniature Bic lighter appears in a handkerchief. The lighter is placed in a pocket, but reappears in the hank. Another lighter appears. A matchbox appears. One of the lighters appears in the matchbox. Finally, a full-sized Bic lighter appears. Routines of this type are often performed with coins, and the use of the lighters is a novelty. The routine is not difficult but will require some practice to perform smoothly. The routine can be done in close-up or stand-up venues, but because of the small size of the props I think A Bic Too Far would not be suitable for large audiences. If you are looking for a stand-up routine with comedic possibilities, A Bic Too Far would be worth your consideration.

Finally, Pass the Parcel ($30 postpaid) is a stage routine for children or adults. Using a series of instructions printed in a plastic-comb bound book, a pre-determined result is arrived at, although it would appear that the results were out of the magician's control. (The effect is more involved than this, and is much like one of Max Maven's Mind Games.) This is one of those effects that packs small but plays very big, and it incorporates a lot of audience involvement. Kid show performers should definitely check out Pass the Parcel. For more info on it check out Mark's web site.

Mark also has a new set of lecture notes out called The Serial Thriller Lecture Book. ($16 postpaid.) Most of the material appeared in Goodliffe's Abracadabra Magazine. The notes contain practical and commercial stand-up and close-up magic.

Cupid's Arrow Liberty Vanish Ashes to Ashes

From Amberg Entertainment. See below for individual prices. From Amberg Entertainment, P.O. Box 4663, Springfield, MO 65808. Orders: 417-886-2442. Web site: www.amberentertainment.com.

On hand are three new tricks from Amberg Entertainment. Cupid's Arrow ($19.95 plus $4 p&h) is a trick designed to perform for a couple. The female spectator picks a card and signs the face. The card is replaced in the deck. The top card of the deck is shown to be an indifferent card. The card is turned face down and the male spectator signs the back of it. This card is lost in the deck. Now the magician brings out a small (7 inches long) wooden arrow. One of the spectators inserts the arrow into the front end of the deck. (The action here is similar to finding a card by sliding a butter knife into the deck.) The deck is separated at that point. The cards above and below the arrow are shown. Neither is one of the signed cards. The magician removes the arrow from the deck. Impaled on the end is the card that the woman signed. Turning the card over reveals that the man's signature is now on the other side. The card is given away as a souvenir.

There are other tricks in the literature that involve two signatures coming together. (The best of these is Anniversary Waltz.) Cupid's Arrow can be performed with ordinary cards, but there are some drawbacks. The handling Mr. Amberg offers is rather cozy, but if you experiment you could probably work out more casual-looking alternatives.

However, there is no way to disguise the fact that the arrow is going a playing card. Every time I tried it I heard a very loud "ripping" noise as the arrow penetrated the card. Finally, when the pierced card is revealed it is obvious that it has been bent in half. The instructions suggest that the card be straightened out before it is displayed to the spectators, but there is no way to completely straighten out a card that has been bent in half. If you are looking for a romantically themed trick, I think there are better alternatives than Cupid's Arrow.

Liberty Vanish ($19.95 plus $4 p&h) is a close-up version of David Copperfield's vanish of the Statue of Liberty. A 3-inch tall model of the statue is placed between two playing cards. The top of the statue pokes out from above the two cards. The magician removes a small flashlight and shines it on the statue. The cards are removed; the statue is gone. You will need to perform this on a close-up pad, and I have some concerns about angle problems. This trick will require practice. My main objection to Liberty Vanish is that you start dirty and you end dirty. The spectators cannot examine the two cards used to cover the statue, and the handling used to display the cards is furtive and unconvincing. My fear is that if you purchase this trick the Statue of Liberty will end up vanishing into the bottom of your magic drawer.

I got off to a bad start with Ted Amberg's Ashes to Ashes ($27.95 plus $4 p&h). One of props is an Altoids-style metal box that has been painted black. As I examined the box and tried to open it I realized that my hands were turning black. The paint was rubbing off. The effect of Ashes to Ashes is this. A spectator selects a card (forced). She writes the name of the card on a piece of paper. The paper is folded up, placed in an ashtray, and burned. The spectator holds her hands over the smoke that rises from the burning paper. An image of the card appears on the back of one of her hands.

There are so many things wrong with Ashes to Ashes that I'm unsure where to begin. The idea of producing an image of a playing card on the back of the spectator' hand is not Mr. Amberg's. Michael Weber performed this effect (which I believe was the creation of a Japanese magician) for me in 1984. In that version ashes were rubbed on the spectator's hand to produce the image. The black box (the one that soiled my hands) contains the rubber stamp and other necessary gimmicks. It is supposed to be some type of matchbox. Not only does it look nothing like a matchbox, it doesn't look like the type of box anyone would ever carry matches in. The rubber stamp provided was made by shoving a pushpin into a rubber stamp. The instructions tell you to grip this in fingerpalm position. Unless you do this near the base of the fingers, the pushpin is going to show between your fingers. You are supposed to get everything ready while your back is turned and the spectator is writing the name of the card on the paper. In the instructional videotape the camera kindly looks away from the magician while this is going on. (Incidentally, the instructional video is another of those "shot it in my basement with my camcorder" productions that are becoming more prevalent these days.)

Considering the fact that you're going to have to throw away the metal box and remake the rubber stamp so it can be clipped near the tips of the fingers, you'd be better off just tossing Ashes to Ashes in the fireplace without opening it. Or, better still, just spend your money somewhere else.

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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