Faded Pages

I used to keep a magic notebook. Actually, I filled up five notebooks - small, blue books with sturdy cardboard covers, originally designed as college lab notebooks. Through many hundreds of entries I kept track of the tricks I had invented (mostly lousy) and the tricks that had been shown to me (lots of them really great). I'm not sure why, but I stopped logging items in the notebooks in 1983. I should probably start writing in them again.

In the first of the notebooks is entry #97, dated August 1976. It is Brother John Hamman's Pinochle Trick. I had learned the trick at a convention at Kansas City in July of 1976. John Carney remembers this convention, and mentioned it in last month's MAGIC. There were some great magicians in attendance, and I recall sitting in a close-up room watching Bro. John perform his Flash Poker routine. I felt like I'd been kicked in the head. During the course of that convention I learned that routine and a few others. Back then, if you knew the work of an unpublished Bro. John routine you were really "inside." I used this fact as a psychological weapon in a routine designed to wipe out smug magicians. The routine (first published as Wild Underground Transposition and later renamed Dancers at the End of Time) worked because smart magicians felt an inward sense of pride that they were hip enough to know the Bro. John routine that they thought I was doing, while all the time I was leading them down the garden path. (I eventually had a chance to perform this for Bro. John in St. Louis. The look on his face helped make up for all the times he'd beat me up over the years.)

Bro. John's death hit me hard, and I don't know if the sadness I felt was for the loss of a great human being, or the realization of the passing of a time when secrets were really important - a time when people would uproot their lives and move West to acquire knowledge that was unobtainable any other way. It is so different now. We have all (myself included) sold out. Slowly but surely the master magicians are leaving us. The young turks I grew up with are now middle-aged business men, hungrily on the prowl for new secrets to sell to a growing group of magic consumers that apparently cannot be satiated.

Luckily, there are still a few people around who treasure good ideas and who value secrecy over profit. Bob White is like that. Bob is a very low-key Texan, whose only product offering so far has been a small (but very valuable) set of lecture notes. You'll find out more about one of Bob's great ideas later on in this column. Bob doesn't attend many magic conventions, but if you ever have a chance to meet him you'll enjoy the experience.

As Don Ameche said in a wonderful David Mamet movie, "Things change." Now that the product floodgates have opened, I can't imagine that we'll ever go back to a time when secrets are jealously guarded. Now we hide our secrets in plain sight. The routines that I would have killed for 30 years ago are available to anyone who can read a book. Ah, but there's the catch - so few are willing (or able) to do that. Do yourself a favor. Get a copy of The Secrets of Brother John Hamman. Learn a couple of the tricks. Do them for your magic buddies. When their jaws drop and when they ask you where you learned those tricks, smile enigmatically and put the cards away. Let 'em suffer.

So long, Brother John. Thanks for bashing my brains in. I needed it.

Concertos for Pasteboards

Edited by Oliver Ehrens. 6 x 9 hardcover with dustjacket. 246 pages. $38 postpaid in US. From Hermetic Press, 1500 SW Trenton Street, Seattle, WA 98106-248. Fax: 206-7681688. Email: [email protected].

Those of us who live in English speaking countries are certainly fortunate that there is a vast library of magic information available in English. Greater Magic, the Tarbell Course, Expert at the Card Table, the magic of Dai Vernon, and the many excellent contemporary texts - all these are readily accessible and easily understood. How difficult must be the task for those for whom English is their second language. Some important texts have been translated into other languages, but for many non-English speaking magicians, the task of learning magic is a daunting one. Of course, English is fast becoming a common second language, and in my visits to Europe I have been very impressed with the language skills of the magicians I've met.

Because of the huge number of English magic texts available, American publishers rarely bother to go to the trouble to have foreign texts translated, and this is a pity, because there are some very important books that are completely unknown to English speaking readers. Thanks to the excellent work of Richard Hatch and Ariel Frailich important German texts such as Roberto Giobbi's Card College series and Performing Magic for Children are now available. But there are still books by Ascanio and Tamariz that have yet to be translated, a situation that we all hope will be corrected in the near future.

Because the English language texts dominate the marketplace, it is easy to overlook the advancements that are being made in other countries. Last year I wrote a Marketplace column while attending a convention in Steineberg, Germany. In that column I commented on how intensely passionate the young German magicians were about card tricks. Because of age and jet lag I simply couldn't keep up with them. I'd go back to my room, wake up in the middle of the night, go back to the common gathering area, and there they would be - dozens and dozens of magicians, sitting around tables, doing card tricks. And this happened night after night.

Fortunately for those of us who don't read German, Ariel Frailich has translated a large body of German card work into English. These routines were compiled and edited by Oliver Ehrens and were originally published in two German books: Inside CardMagic Volume I (1995) and Inside CardMagic Volume II (1996). The best of the material from these two books is offered in Concertos for Pasteboards, from Hermetic Press.

Although there are several sleight-free routines offered, Concertos for Pasteboards is geared for the magician with some experience in card magic. In fact, throughout the books there are many references made to the Giobbi Card College series. The Card College books comprise the most complete contemporary course in card magic available, and if you don't have them in your library, it would behoove you to purchase and study them. Having these books will certainly clear up any sleight-of-hand questions you may encounter in Concertos for Pasteboards.

Oliver Ehrens has chosen to grade each effect with a difficulty rating. This ranges from "low" to "high." Obviously, such a rating system is purely subjective, but if you are just skimming through the book looking for possible routines to work on, the ratings give you some insight as to the technical requirements. (A thought: It might have been a nice idea to provide an index that lists the tricks according to their difficulty rating.) The first routine in the book, My Name Is.? by Andreas Affeldt, is an offbeat effect that requires no sleight-of-hand whatsoever. A spectator shuffles a deck of cards. When the cards are spread face-up they are seen to be blank-faced. Among the cards are several alphabet cards that, despite the shuffling, correctly spell the magician's name. This is a trick that a trade show worker could put to excellent use.

Other effects that require little technical ability are Manfred Bacia's Perfect Harmony (an effective restructuring of Three in a Million from Frank Garcia's Million Dollar Card Secrets), Christoph Borer's Cutting Corners (a strange effect in which all the cards in the deck lose a corner), and Gerry's Shaker Uprising (a rising card effect uses double-stick tape in an unintuitive way). Also of note is the Light-Reft Spread Pass by Piet Forton and Wolff von Keyserlingk. (Forton, of course, is Swiss, but since he speaks German he sneaks into this book by a technicality). The Spread Pass is normally a demanding sleight, but the easy handling offered here produces a strange optical illusion that allows the performer to secretly cut the deck (which, of course, is all that a pass does). Those seeking an easy method of card control will be well advised to spend a little time learning this move.

Three members of the great Flicking Fingers group are represented with routines that are of only medium difficulty. Pit Hartling offers Jolly Jumper, a routine in which a selected card jumps from one packet of cards to another and then travels to an impossible location. Pit's has cleverly combined several different methods to produce an effect that would be difficult to reconstruct. Helge Thun, whose show Beauty and the Beast (with partner Heiner Kondschak) is a laugh-riot, contributes two routines. In the first, Captain Hook's Card Trick, a selected card appears folded up on the tip of the left forefinger, even though the left hand has been placed in the left trouser pocket during the entire trick. Helge offers two methods for this effect, and the second method incorporates one of the most intelligent uses of a Topit I've encountered. In Helge's second effect, Bulkoki, a bill disappears and is found inside a card case, wrapped around a previously selected signed card. Finally, Jorg Alexander Weber offers Feminine Intuition, a thorough examination of The Stop Fan Discovery from George Kaplan's The Fine Art of Magic. Jorg's work on this trick should popularize this forgotten classic.

Those looking for challenging effects will find several in Concertos for Pasteboards. Roberto Giobbi's A Case for Premonition is a one-deck version of Eddie Joseph's classic effect Premonition. The magician places a cased deck of cards on the table. A spectator names any card. The magician removes the cards from the case and deals the cards faceup onto the table. Only 51 cards are counted. The named card does not appear. Using only his fingertips, the magician removes a card from his trouser pocket. It is the spectator's named card. Giobbi's method is daunting (I used a similar idea in Full Deck Passover in Workers #5), but if you have the chops, A Case for Premonition is a stunning trick. (By the way, Giobbi is also Swiss, but since his books are written in German Oliver Ehrens has decreed him an honorary German subject.) Another effect with a "high" difficulty rating is Peter Grandt's Blackout. This Torn-and-Restored Card routine is worthy of serious study. It can be performed with any deck (as long as you don't mind ruining two cards.) A card is selected. Two spectators sign it on the front and the back. The card is torn to pieces and a corner is given to one of the spectators for later verification. The card is restored, except for the missing corner, which matches it perfectly. The corner is then magically reattached to the card, completing the restoration. The card can be given out as a souvenir. Grandt's method is very clever, and the only aspect I don't like is the timing of the ditching of the torn pieces. Reattaching the torn corner at the conclusion is a bonus; it is visually appealing and completes the circle of magic. The actual torn-and-restored phase is not too difficult. It is the card-signing phase that will require some technical ability.

Finally, for those of you who toil in the trenches of real-world performing venues, I would draw your attention to Tablehopper's Holy P.O.D. by Christian Knudsen. Mr. Knudsen has united elements from Richard Kaufman, Ken Krenzel, Derek Dingle, and Ed Marlo to produce an extremely visual and memorable routine that is designed for the strolling performer.

Ariel Frailich has again provided a clear and readable translation. The illustrations by Frank Rosenberg and Kelly Lyles are excellent. The card enthusiast seeking fresh ideas for play and performance will certainly find much of interest in Concertos for Pasteboards. Recommended.

Making Magic

By Martin Lewis. $30 postpaid in US. From Magikraft Studios, 11639 Sandpiper Court, Moreno Valley, CA 92557. Fax/Phone: 909-247-1666. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://magikraft.com.

Quality stand-up routines are hard to find. Since the stand-up performer is working for a larger audience, the props utilized must be large enough to be seen from a distance, and the routines must be engrossing and mysterious. Martin Lewis is a master of stand-up magic. On Making Magic: The Stand-up Creations of Martin Lewis the always-amusing Mr. Lewis performs and explains six top-notch stand-up routines. As a bonus, Martin also thoroughly explains how to construct each prop. If you're not a do-it-yourselfer, don't despair. All these effects are designed to be easily constructed, using simple tools. In fact, you can make most of them on your kitchen table.

The tape begins with Big Switch, a card trick with a good gag and a surprise finish. This would be an excellent bit for an MC. Snacks Alive is a handling for the vanishing Coke bottle (tell Norm and Lupe I said "Hi"). Martin adds a mild sucker finish that delays the actual vanish, thus disguising the method. The Come-Back Card is a charming parlor effect devised by Martin's father Eric Lewis. A playing card continually jumps to the face of the pack while the pack is isolated in a glass. This effect is easy to do and is very visual. Technicolor Prediction is one of my favorite Martin Lewis effects. Martin has placed this effect on the market, and some months ago I gave it an enthusiastic review. Technicolor Prediction is a comedy mental effect, and is the perfect lead-in to a series of increasingly impossible predictions. I used the original Lewis method using a Himber Wallet in my stand-up shows at Illusions. Martin's new prop (suggested by Ali Bongo) allows the trick to be performed for larger audiences. Ripstix is a handling of the classic Chinese Sticks effect. There is a surprising kicker, however, when the sticks are torn apart (they are made of Christmas wrapping paper) and tossed into the audience. I remember Michael Weber using this to great effect at the Norfolk I.B.M. convention in 1984. (Incidentally, there is a small bit of construction information omitted on the tape. I contacted Martin about this, and he has posted the missing info on his web site. Be sure to check there if you get confused as you construct the sticks.)

Making Magic concludes with one of Martin's finest effects, Cardiographic. A playing card is selected. The magician picks up a drawing pad and attempts to draw a picture of the selected card. The card he draws is not the selection. Attempting to salvage the situation, the magician explains that the card he has drawn is actually the face card of a deck of cards. Adding a few lines, the magician turns the card on the pad into a three-dimensional representation of a deck. He asks the spectator for the name of his card. Suddenly, the named card rises out of the deck on the pad of paper. The card emerges to half its length and then stops. The magician tears off the sheet of paper and hands it to the spectator as a souvenir. Cardiographic is a sensational effect, visually stunning and extremely mystifying. It is in the repertoires of many fine magicians. Martin gives a complete explanation of how to construct the gaffed pad and he discusses all the details of the handling, making it possible for you to put this reputation-making effect in your act.

Considering that Magikraft offers for sale many of the individual effects on this tape, revealing their construction and allowing you to make them for yourself is a generous gift. For the stand-up performer Making Magic is a must buy and a real bargain. Recommended.

Convention at the Capitol 2000

From A-1 MagicalMedia. $29.95 postpaid for US, Canada, and overseas surface mail. Overseas airmail add $7.50. From A-1 MagicalMedia, 3337 Sunrise Blvd., #8, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Orders: 800-876-8437. Fax: 916-852-7785. Web site: www.a1magicalmedia.com

Each year A-1 MagicalMedia releases a tape featuring material from performers at Convention at the Capitol. In the past these tapes have been a mixed bag. After all, look at it from the performer's point of view. As a requirement for working the convention you have to allow Mike Maxwell to videotape a trick from your lecture. Are you going to give him your best stuff? Maybe yes, maybe no. Be that as it may, the performers on the Convention at the Capitol 2000 video were exceptionally generous. The routines offered are uniformly excellent, and this tape may well be the best of the series.

The tape begins with Lennart Green performing Xirtam (that's Matrix spelled backwards). This is the type of magical gag that only Lennart can pull off. I'm not going to spoil it by telling you what happens. This routine is not explained, but that's okay because Lennart is only guy in the world who can get away with this kind of thing. (Xirtam is the only item on the tape that is not explained.) Jerry Andrus performs his famous Miser's Miracle. Although almost 50 years old, this production of four silver dollars is unquestionably the finest of its kind. Its appearance on this tape should revitalize interest in a younger generation of close-up magicians. Whit Haydn discusses a method for turning a spectator into an impromptu stooge. This is the method that Whit used to allow a blind spectator to identify the identities of playing cards. Johnny Thompson explains Vernon's Variant, a Do-As-I-Do effect with a surprise finish.

The scene shifts to Mike Maxwell's house for a routine from Paul Wilson. Bottom's Up is a funny and deceptive method for apparently dealing off the bottom of the deck. Mike Caveny tips his impromptu method for the Linking Coat Hangers. Martin Lewis and Joshua Jay discuss card tricks, and Gregory Wilson offers an excellent three-coin routine with lots of extra options and information.

Finally, Carl Cloutier explains his Cards to Slimfast Can routine. Carl has won contests with this routine, so I'm sure the explanation will be of interest, although I don't know how many magicians will actually find this to be a routine of practical value. As part of this routine, Carl explains his version of Travelers, with the final card appearing in his sock. Carl shares an interesting similarity with Mac King: should either gentlemen be unable to make it to a gig they can always just send their suits.

The tape ends with some type of stupid skit. I immediately hit the Fast Forward button. I think you will too. Discounting this last bit of wasted tape, I think you'll find The Convention at the Capitol 2000 to be an excellent collection of practical material from some top-notch performers.

Jay Sankey's Non-Stop Magic Party

By Jay Sankey. $24.95. Available from your favorite magic dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Phone: 800-853-7403. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com

Jay Sankey is back with another collection of close-up magic. As with the previous Sankey releases, this is a low-budget affair, a one-camera shoot with Jay standing at a card table in his apartment. And as in previous videos, the quality of the material makes up for the lack of production values.

Eighteen items are demonstrated and explained (some of these items are gags rather than magic tricks), and included are tricks with cards, coins, dollar bills, thumb tips, match books, pencils, flash paper, cigarettes, paperclips, and rubber bands. None of the routines require difficult sleight-of-hand.

Jay's material suits him perfectly, although I find some of his techniques to be contrived and less than convincing. However, there is a lot of material here, and I'm sure that the close-up enthusiast will find several things to have fun with. Sankey fans will certainly want to add this video to their collections, and for everyone else Jay Sankey's Non-Stop Magic Party is worth a look.

Mark Wilson on Illusions Volume 1

By Mark Wilson. $30 plus $4 p&h. From Magic International, P.O. Box 801839, Santa Clarita, CA 91380. Orders: 800-367-8749. Fax: 661-288-2609. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.markwilsonmagic.com

Through his many years of appearing on television, Mark Wilson has performed hundreds of illusions. Some of these were expensive technological marvels; others were simpler in design and construction. Mark has decided to share his expertise in a series of videotapes. The first in the series, Mark Wilson on Illusions: Inexpensive Illusions, has just been released. It is a valuable resource.

The tape begins with Mark giving a general overview of the many illusions he has performed. His partner, Nani Darnell Wilson, has probably emerged from more different illusions than anyone else in history. We see video clips of Nani jumping out of 31 different illusions. Mark then pays tribute to two great illusion creators, Robert Harbin and Alan Wakeling.

Following this longish introduction we get to the meat of the tape. The effect of all the illusions discussed is the production of a human being. Seven illusions are performed and explained. First off is the venerable U.F. Grant Victory Carton Illusion. This very effective illusion can be constructed from cardboard boxes. Of particular interest is how the forced perspective of the television camera can be used to enhance the mystery of this production. The Moving Screen production is explained next. Again, the illusion can be constructed very simply, or can be made more elaborate, depending on your budget. Because the method is simple, this is an effective way to magically produce a CEO or a corporate speaker. A variation of the Moving Screen principle leads to the Mystery of Three, a production involving three panels. Mark combined this production with a simple force to magically produce Nani as Little Red Riding Hood on the Magic Land of Allakazam show. This basic method is also used in the Circus Screen illusion. Another adaptation of the screen principle creates both Mike's Clubhouse and the Invisible Train. The first illusion is a production, the second is a disappearance. Both require that the assistant be of small stature. The secret of these two illusions is being revealed for the first time.

Finally, Mark explains how the principles of parlor magic can be adapted to stage illusions. Fishing in a Barrel uses the method of the Square Circle. This principle allows for the production of several large items plus a human being. As with the other illusions, this one need not be expensive to be effective.

With the increased interest in corporate magic, many magicians who would not normally perform illusions find themselves in a situation where they have to add a big trick to their show. As I mentioned above, most often the situation involves magically producing a corporate bigwig. With the information on this tape you can add an illusion to your show without having to spend a fortune.

In the magic marketplace the emphasis is on close-up and stand-up magic. Only rarely is information on illusions offered for sale. Because of its emphasis on inexpensive illusions, I think the first volume of Mark Wilson on Illusions will be of enormous value to the budding stage illusionist. I look forward to further volumes in the series. Recommended.

Basic Coin Magic Volumes 1 and 2

By David Stone. Each video $29.95. Available from your favorite magic dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Phone: 800-853-7403. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com

David Stone is a French magician who has won several awards including the Diavol Award in the 1995 French Championship. The title of his two-volume video set Basic Coin Magic says it all; here are the techniques that are the cornerstones of coin magic and several routines that utilize these techniques.

All the fundamentals are here: Classic Palm, Finger Palm, Thumb Palm, Back Clip, Tenkai/Goshman Pinch, Han Ping Chien move, Retention Vanishes, and so forth. The effects include productions, vanishes, Coins Across, Copper/Silver routines, one-coin routines (ala Flurry), and others. The tapes were produced in French, but an English soundtrack has been dubbed in.

Mr. Stone is a competent coin handler, and the sleights and routines are performed and explained well. I was a little disappointed that there was very little original material here. A viewing of the final credits shows that almost all the routines were created by other people. However, since the purpose of the tape is to teach basic coin magic and not to showcase the originality of Mr. Stone this is understandable.

If there were no other tapes on basic coin magic available I would have no problem recommending these tapes. Unfortunately, there are other tapes available, and in my opinion the Stone videotapes do not rise to the level of the David Roth basic coin magic videos. If you're a coin magic junky you'll probably find material to interest you on

David Stone's Basic Coin Magic. If you are new to coin magic I would suggest that you seek out the Roth tapes.

Whisper

By Roger Klause. $39.95. Available from your favorite magic dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Phone: 800-853-7403. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com

The Cap and Pence is a classic effect. Many great magicians including Nate Leipzig, Dai Vernon, Don Alan, Scotty York, and Harry Riser have included this effect in their repertoires. Now Roger Klause has released his most recent handling in Whisper, produced by Reel Magic and distributed by Murphy's Magic Supplies. The package includes Roger's complete routine, carefully explained and beautifully illustrated, and a nicely made gaff.

The effect of the Cap and Pence is simple. Six coins (usually quarters) are stacked on the back of a spectator's hand. The coins are covered with a cone. (Sometimes the cone is made of leather; sometimes it is formed from a dollar bill.) The coins penetrate through the spectator's hand. That's it - simple, quick, effective. Through the years, small additions have been made to the basic effect. In one version when the cone is lifted there is a small stack of pennies on the back of the spectator's hand. In other versions a small object is placed on top of the stack of quarters. (In Don Alan's handling this was a small die. In Scotty York's handing it was a Lifesaver.) In Whisper a penny is placed on top of the stack of quarters. A cone made from a dollar bill is placed over the coins. After the quarters penetrate the spectator's hand the cone is lifted revealing the penny resting on the back of the hand. The fact that the penny remains after the quarters penetrate provides an additional puzzling aspect.

Whisper is a very excellent product, and this is due to two factors. Roger's handling is beautifully worked out. The coins are switched for the gaff under the cover of natural actions, Roger's method for releasing the coins into the spectator's other hand allows for almost no extraneous finger motion, and the gaff is stolen and ditched on the off beat. (In this handling the cone is squeezed flat after the coins penetrate. Roger mentions that this technique comes from Nate Leipzig. Other experts, such as Charlie Miller, did not believe that Leipzig used this technique.) Performed properly, this handling will take in even experienced magicians.

The other factor that makes Whisper a real fooler is the gaffed stack. Although not credited, this stack is the design of Bob White. Bob designed his stack in the early 1970's, inspired by a solid stack shown to him by Chuck Smith. Bob showed the stack to several friends, including Pressley Guitar and the late Lewis Zafran. This gaff has weight; when it rests on the back of the spectator's hand it feels like the real thing. In addition, when the gaff is placed on the spectator's hand you can hear a small "clink" noise, just as you would hear if real coins were placed on the hand. These two subtle additions help to sell the effect.

A version of Whisper was sold in 1995 by Stevens Magic Emporium. This was a limited release and I don't believe that it received a lot of attention. (I was unaware of its existence, as was Bob White.) This new version is an excellent production all the way around. The instructions are thorough, the illustrations are great, there is an extensive Bibliography for further research, and the gaff is a delight. If you have ever wanted to add a version of the Cap and Pence to your close-up repertoire, now's the time to do it.

Ob-Ser-Vo

By Eugene Burger. $20 postpaid in US. Foreign orders add $4. From Eugene Burger, 1260 N. Dearborn Ave., Chicago, IL 60610

There is an interesting category of tricks in which various spectators see different things even though they are viewing the same thing. (For a trick of this nature check out the very first issue of The Jinx.) Ob-Ser-Vo by Eugene Burger is this type of observation test. Two spectators are used. The magician shows the first spectator a few cards. He is asked to remember how many cards he sees and the number of red cards in the group. The magician turns to the second spectator and repeats this process. When spectator number one is queried he reports that he saw four cards, two of which were red. The second spectator reports that he saw five cards, three of which were red. Again the cards are displayed to the first spectator. This time he sees five cards, but three of them are black. To settle the discrepancy, the magician shows everyone the cards. There are five. Two are black; two are red. The fifth card is revealed - it is the Joker.

The hobbyist will certainly find Ob-Ser-Vo to be a user-friendly trick. There is absolutely no sleight-of-hand involved. A gaffed card and the judicious use of a secret substance do all the work for you. Trade show workers may also find Ob-Ser-Vo to be useful, since instead of a Joker you can produce a card that bears a company logo. Beyond this, though, I have several reservations about Ob-Ser-Vo.

First, the impact of this trick strikes me as "So far, so what?" What happens? One card changes color and an extra card shows up. An effect of this nature is so easily accomplished by low level sleight-of-hand that the use of gaffed cards seems unnecessary. In fact, Eugene based his trick on Robert Neale's Seeing What Seems from Life, Death, & Other Card Tricks. Neale's routine is very easy, requiring only a few Elmsley counts. Performed competently, I don't believe that a lay audience would notice any difference between the Burger routine and the Neale routine.

Second, if I'm going to carry around gaffed cards, I'd better get some bang for my buck. Anytime you use gaffs you have to take into consideration how you will bring the gaffs into play and how you will get rid of them. Ob-Ser-Vo is an opening routine (I can't see that it's strong enough to be placed anywhere else), so I can have the gaffs set when I begin. I will then have to palm them off, or put them and the deck away. Contrast this with Gary Plants' gaff for the Magnetized Cards (Marketplace, November 2000). I can leave that gaff in the deck; perform a whole set of card tricks, and then do the Magnetized Cards at any time I wish. And for the price of carrying the gaffed card I can do an effect that I cannot easily accomplish with sleight-of-hand. Plus, there is substantial bang for the buck.

Finally, if you're going to do an effect where the cards change, do one where there is a real surprise at the end. An excellent example is Larry Jennings' wonderful (and little known) Look an Illusion. This trick can be presented in the same manner as Ob-Ser-Vo. The magician shows five cards. One spectator sees four Jokers and an Ace of Spades. A second spectator sees four Aces of Spades and a Joker. The cards are displayed singly and placed on the table. They are the four kings. This is accomplished with ungaffed cards and only intermediate sleight-of-hand.

If the effect appeals and you have no technical ability whatsoever, Ob-Ser-Vo may be the trick for you. Everyone else should think seriously about it before dropping $20.

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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