Introduction

It is December 23, 2001 as I write this. I am three columns away from completing my 7th year as product reviewer for MAGIC magazine. The first year Mac King and I served as duo reviewers. Mac immensely disliked having to give negative reviews and dropped out after that first year. I continued on.

At the MAGIC Live! convention I gave a brief history of the product review section of the magazine. That summary can be found in the September 2001 Marketplace column. Each of the gentlemen who wrote for the magazine brought their own unique viewpoint to the job of product review, and I enjoyed reading their comments. My driving goal was to provide honest information for the magician who had no easy access to a magic shop, and thus had to make his buying decision based on the ads that appear in the various trade journals. My simple purpose was to let the readers of the magazine know whether the product was (in one person's opinion) worth the asking price. In addition, I have tried to make the column entertaining to read. I do not consider myself a great essayist or a writer of formal criticism. The columns have been conversational in style, and I hope that they are easy to read and bring a smile every now and then.

On this disc you will find all the product review columns from May 1995 through December 2001. The columns are in the form that I submitted them to the magazine. I tried as much as possible to catch errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but things sometimes fall through the cracks, and I am grateful that the editorial staff of MAGIC managed to catch many of the glitches that I missed. The copy you are reading, however, is my original text. This means that there may be some mistakes. I apologize for them in advance. Another factor is this: sometimes items had to be cut for space. Usually, we tried to include the item in the next month's column. When this happened I just pasted the review from the previous month into the column I was working on. I didn't delete the time from the first column. This explains why you may find an item appearing more than once in the columns.

I see no reason why anyone (including my mother) would want to read through all these columns from beginning to end. This is not why we are releasing this collection. The beauty of Acrobat Reader is that it has a powerful "Find" function that will allow you to search through the entire collection of reviews. If there is a product you are considering buying, it is a simple matter to type the name of the book, video, or trick into the search engine and track down the review. You can also type in the name of people if you're looking for products by a certain creator.

It is rather staggering to see the number of pages that I have typed in the last seven years. It is also gratifying to hear from readers of the magazine that my reviews have been of value. Please remember, however, that a review is not fact, it is opinion. I back up my opinions with 43 years of experience as both a hobbyist and a professional. But under no circumstances should you take my opinion as being the final word on the subject. The Internet has allowed even magicians who live in isolated areas to seek out information from other magicians around the world. I urge you to use these resources intelligently (which for the most part is a rare occurrence) and ask questions of the other knowledgeable magicians on the Net.

Some thanks are in order. My thanks to Mac King, John Moehring, Stephen Hobbs, Gordon Bean, Jon Racherbaumer, David Charvet, and Brian McCullagh for allowing me to include their guest reviews in this collection. Thanks also to Stan Allen, the publisher of MAGIC magazine, and John Moehring, the editor of MAGIC. Writing does not come particularly easy to me, and, while I never missed a deadline, I'm sure there were times when John and Stan wondered if I was actually going to get the column in on time.

If this collection is your first introduction to my writings in MAGIC, you might want to think about subscribing. I have continued on as product reviewer, and the magazine contains great articles and some terrific tricks compiled by our new trick editor Joshua Jay. Visit www.MagicMagazine.com to find out more information.

I was rather overwhelmed to find that at 12-point type this document ran to almost 900 pages. More than 1100 books, videotapes, and tricks have been reviewed. Now I know why I have no life. It was with some envy that I looked back at the columns Mac and I wrote together. Some of them only ran 2000 words. The last column I wrote was 6600 words long.

Thank you for purchasing this CD-Rom. I would appreciate it if you would not make copies for your friends. The electronic medium is an easy one to copy illegally. If you have a friend that you think would benefit from the information included here, please direct them to my website at www.MichaelClose.com and urge them to purchase a copy for themselves.

Thanks again, and enjoy the reviews.

Michael Close December 23, 2001 Las Vegas, Nevada

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