My Friends Are Slowly Turning Into Books

Some months ago a fellow came up and spoke to me after one of my lectures. What he said surprised me. "You sound just like your review column!" I guess I was surprised because I don't know how else I would sound; it was never my goal to structure these reviews as serious, formal essays. I wanted these reviews to be conversational in tone, and if I have eventually found my "writing voice" I'm delighted. Those who know me personally can probably hear my voice as they read these words. If we haven't met, all you're missing is the timbre of my voice and the rhythm I use to deliver the words; the experience of this column would be similar to discussing the tricks while enjoying a cup of coffee.

It's amazing to discover that a writer can sound just like his books. Other than in the world of magic, I am not personally acquainted with anyone who's written a book. But many of my magic acquaintances have written books, and I have found that over the years I return again and again to those books in which the author's written voice has captured his true voice. Reading these books is like a visit, and although the conversation is one-sided, the experience is pleasurable.

Unfortunately, several of my friends have left for parts unknown, leaving only their words behind. It's no longer possible to call, or write, or visit with them in person, so when I miss them I walk into my library and take them off the shelf, and we spend a little time together. And this is one of the great gifts that books provide - a chance to once again interact with Stewart James, T. A. Waters, Howard Lyons, Rick Johnsson, Clarke Crandall, or Bruce Elliott. We are separated by time and space, but not really separated at all, for we simply stand on opposite sides of a piece of paper. The words that you're reading now I saw appear on my computer screen, and when you read the words the connection is made, regardless of how much time may have passed between the writing and the reading. The visit is as real as you choose to make it.

I wish my friends were still around in person, but lacking that, I'm glad that they turned into books rather than disappearing completely. Their words keep their spirits alive in our memories, and if you think about it, that's really where we all live.

The James File

Compiled and Written by Allan Slaight. Three volumes. 8.5 x 11 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. Over 1700 pages. $165 postpaid in US. From Hermetic Press, 1500 SW Trenton Street, Seattle, WA 98106-2468. Fax: 206-768-1688. Email: [email protected].

My main reason for writing the above introduction to this month's review column is a remarkable book called Stewart James in Print. Published in 1989 it contains 412 tricks and routines created by Mr. James from 1926 to 1975. At the time of its release this was the biggest magic book ever printed. More extraordinary than its size and the quality of material contained within its 1000+ pages is the detailed portrait it paints of the life and times of Stewart James. It is one of my favorite books regardless of subject matter, and it is a book that I return to time and again, and each rereading feels like a visit with an old friend. Weighing in at seven pounds, Stewart James in Print also makes my Top Ten list of magic books that cannot be comfortably read on the toilet.

At the time of publication of Stewart James in Print, it was announced that two more volumes would follow - Stewart James in Print: The Next Fifteen Years, and The James File. The former book would contain published creations from 1975 - 1990, the latter volume would contain unpublished material. It took more than ten years before another James book was published, and during that time it was decided to change the format. The best of the tricks from 1975 - 1990 would be combined with the best of the unpublished James material, and added to this large collection would be variations of James routines by other creators. As it turned out, this was a massive amount of material, consisting of 556 tricks by Stewart James and 148 tricks by others. This wealth of material has finally been released in The James File, which consists of two massive hardback books containing the tricks, and a third volume that contains an index of The James File and Stewart James in Print.

I have not yet seen the finished product, as the books are due out in July and I am writing this review at the end of May. However, some months ago I asked Allan Slaight to begin to send me the galleys of the books so I could get a head start on reading them. He sent me over 1600 pages. I ran to my trusty binding machine and bound them into four manageable books. Without hardcover binding these books weighed in at nine pounds and were four inches thick. I had my work cut out for me.

I'm not going to spend much more time discussing how The James File came into existence. To learn more I suggest you read the cover story in the February 2000 issue of MAGIC. But for those who are unfamiliar with the history of this project I will mention that work on Stewart James in Print started in 1982 with Allan Slaight and Howard Lyons serving as compilers and editors. Stewart James also actively participated. Sadly, Howard died in 1987, two years before the book's completion. As Allan writes, "Most of the pleasure for Stewart and me was extinguished." Work then began on The James File, but Stewart made it clear that, while he would make his voluminous files available to Allan, he would take no active part in the creation of the book. Wisely, Allan enlisted the aid of Max Maven. Max writes, "My work has included a fair amount of research, tracking down credits and references, plus a lot of proofreading. But in addition to the drudgery, there have been aspects of this ten-year-plus endeavor that have made it more than worthwhile.. .here and there I've had the chance to dig into an idea of Stewart's that had not been clearly recorded - an incomplete explanation, an unsolved plot." Max's extraordinary problem solving skills have produced methods for effects that would otherwise remain unsolved mysteries (and there are still many of those listed in the book). Without his contribution The James File would be a very different book. (I should also mention that near the end of the project, Gordon Bean was added to the team.)

Unlike Stewart James in Print, in which Stewart's creations are presented chronologically, the material in The James File is arranged in 86 chapters organized thematically. These chapters are of three types: routines grouped together because of the prop used or the plot explored, variations by Stewart and others of classic James effects, and material that enriches our understanding of Stewart James the man.

Stewart's fascination with all things magical led him to invent tricks in a wide variety of areas. Included in The James File are chapters on prediction effects, effects based on anagrams, poker deals, effects using the Australian ("down and under") Deal, effects with balls, paper clips, dice, handkerchiefs, and gaffed playing cards. There are linguistic tricks, variations of the Lie Speller plot, routines utilizing the Master Move, mental effects, tricks with money, rope routines, tricks using two decks of cards, four ace effects, number tricks, and effects based on the Magic Square. The scope and variety of this material is overwhelming; it is truly a case where there is something for everyone.

For fans of Stewart's published creations, the chapters that feature variations of his classic tricks will be of particular interest. Here is new information on "Spell of Mystery," "Further Than That," "Evolution of a Dream," "Miraskill," "Half and Half," "Sefalaljia," and "51 Faces North." Most magicians associate "Sefalaljia" with the effect of a finger ring penetrating a shoelace, and there is a chapter of The James File devoted to variations of this effect. However, the original "Sefalaljia" was a full-blown miniature spirit cabinet routine that originally appeared in The Jinx. Stewart updated and reworked this routine and presented it in 1982 at the Abbott's Get-Together and at the Ibidem Event in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. In a chapter titled Silas Deemer and His Incredible Intene Engergizer (named after Stewart's patter plot) the entire routine for "Sefalaljia #2" is detailed. I was in the audience when Stewart presented this at the Ibidem Event, and I was completely fooled, as was everyone else in the room. (In fact, if you own the audiotape of Stewart performing this routine you will hear my very audible reactions.) Jeff Busby marketed this routine some years ago, but I think it is relatively unknown to magicians. Take the time to construct the necessary props, and you'll have a parlor routine that is completely out of the ordinary.

Before leaving the subject of variations of Stewart's classic effects, I want to take a moment to discuss "51 Faces North." As Allan Slaight writes at the beginning of the chapter devoted to this effect, "It is assumed that many who acquire The James File will first refer to the Table of Contents to determine the page number of this chapter and then turn here immediately, hopping against all information to the contrary that Stewart James' method for this legendary effect will be revealed for the first time. It probably will not." For those unfamiliar with this trick, I'll give a little background. Paul Curry suggested a card problem that has become known as the Open Prediction. Simply put the effect is this: The magician writes the name of a card as a prediction. The spectators know the name of this card (in other words, it is an "open" prediction). A spectator is given a deck of cards. He deals through the deck, dealing from the face down deck, turning each card face up in turn and placing the cards in a pile on the table. At some point in the dealing one card is left face down. The remainder of the deck is dealt face up. The predicted card has not appeared. The face down card is turned over, it is the predicted card. In Ibidem #3 Stewart presented a treatise titled, "Twenty-five Methods for the Open Prediction." As part of this write-up Stewart offered a super version of the effect. He titled this "51 Faces North," and he included stringent conditions that made the effect seem impossible. Stewart's method for this trick was never published, and many of us hoped that his solution would be a part of The James File. Unfortunately, it is not.

While unable to provide us with Stewart's solution, Allan Slaight does offer some interesting approaches to the effect. Allan asked some top-notch creators to work on the problem in an attempt to nail down a "Jamesian" solution. The chapter includes handlings by Steve Beam, Gordon Bean, David Ben, Peter Duffie, J. K. Hartman, Ken Krenzel, Michael Weber, and others. While all the solutions are interesting (the Weber approach is particularly sneaky), you may find them unsatisfying for this reason: they satisfy Stewart's conditions without satisfying our ideal of how the effect should look. In other words, the spectator doesn't just deal through the deck, leave a card face down, deal through the remainder, and then turn over the face down card to reveal a successful conclusion. There's more "stuff' going on. This tends to be the case when doping out the solution to a James problem, for Stewart was an expert at creating an intriguingly honest but deceptive "dealer ad" description of a trick. Fortunately, there is a version of "51 Faces North" included in The James File that almost exactly matches the description given above. It is by Ed Marlo and can be found in the chapter titled Gaff Trick. It is well worth your attention.

There are two other "trick" chapters that you may want to read before you tackle the books from cover to cover. The first is Capek Would Be Proud, which details the workings of "The Robot Deck," a remarkable stacked deck effect. The other chapter is On To Toronto, which details a lecture that Stewart gave to the Hat and Rabbit Club of Toronto in 1952. That Allan Slaight and Howard Lyons were able to reconstruct the effects from this lecture is amazing. Even more amazing, however, is the concept introduced by Stewart in which each card trick in a routine successively arranges cards that are used further down the line. Thus, the deck gets stacked a little at a time. This lecture was a traumatic event for Stewart, for it was not well received. The old adage states that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. In this case Stewart was really early.

Scattered throughout The James File are chapters that round out our knowledge of Stewart James the man. There is information on his family life, love life, opinions on various magicians of that time, creative techniques, organizational methods, imaginary co-creators, and his penchant for puns and wordplay. There is also a recounting of a very strange occurrence when he ran afoul of the law. Combined with the information in Stewart James in Print, we have what is arguably the most complete portrait of a man in the history of magical literature.

A third book is included with The James File, and this is an index that covers both The James File and Stewart James in Print. This index is approximately 110 pages long and contains 15,000 entries. The index was compiled by William Goodwin and is in three sections: Trick Names, People Names, and Miscellaneous references. With the staggering amount of material in these books the index is a godsend.

Before I offer my final comments, I'll offer a word of warning. There are some people who probably won't care for this book. It is important to remember that for Stewart James the discovery of a new principle or the working out of a new angle or approach to a trick was all-important. Whether the trick was actually entertaining was secondary. Many of his tricks relied on subtleties and mathematical principles rather than sleight-of-hand. In fact, I think Stewart disliked incorporating sleight-of-hand because he considered it "cheating." With a trick based on mathematics or an ingenious pre-arrangement of cards the spectator is actually given all the information needed to figure out the solution. The game becomes one of intellect vs. intellect. However, because of this, there are many James routines that cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered entertaining. This is not to say that they are not intriguing. But if you are considering purchasing these volumes strictly to find repertoire for your close-up or stand-up shows, you may be disappointed at some of the routines you encounter.

Having said that, I'll now say that if you appreciate pure ingenuity, The James File will delight you. If you are a student of magic history you will find here one the most detailed histories of close-up magic that I have ever encountered. The amount of research that has gone into the documenting of the effects in this book is astonishing. If you're looking for tricks that will completely fool laymen or magicians, you'll find them here. And if you're looking to be inspired by the unbelievable creativity of a remarkable man, you'll find that here as well.

I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to bring The James File to completion. Considering that the slyly sardonic Lyons departed early, and James himself showed no particular enthusiasm for the project, I'm sure there must have been times when Allan Slaight simply wanted to chuck the whole thing. But he didn't, and the fact that he didn't shows why he is so successful in the business world. I have the feeling that Stewart never said thank you for all this hard work. But I will. Thank you, Allan. And thank you Max, Bill, and Gordon for making these books possible.

The James File is one of the most remarkable publications in the history of magic. It should be in your library. I give it my highest recommendation.

Card College Volume 4

By Roberto Giobbi. 7 x 10 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 315 pages. $38 postpaid in US. From Hermetic Press, 1500 SW Trenton Street, Seattle, WA 98106-2468. Fax: 206768-1688. Email: [email protected].

The marvelous Card College series comes to a conclusion with the publication of Volume Four. These books are the definitive course for learning the techniques of card magic. Roberto Giobbi's explanations are clear and thorough. In addition to the basic explanation of a sleight, Mr. Giobbi also offers Check Points, which give alternate techniques, suggestions for audience management, and psychological tips. Although this is the fourth volume of the series, the techniques explained are generally no more difficult than the material discussed in Volume Three.

Here's some the topics discussed in Volume Four: Force Techniques, Card Switches, Packet Switches, Deck Switches, Estimation, Culling (other than Hofzinser-type spread culls), Stacking (both overhand and riffle), False Deals, Sandwich Techniques, Advanced Pass Techniques, Tilt, Reverses, and Flourishes. Each chapter contains some card tricks that utilize the sleight under discussion. These effects are good, and they're worth learning.

At the end of Card College 4 is a thoughtful essay in which Mr. Giobbi attempts "to identify and organize the major elements on which a magic performance is based." As his organizational model, Mr. Giobbi uses a pyramid containing seven layers: effect, methods, staging, psychology, communication, history, and intellectual and emotional effects. Analyzing and examining these layers, starting at the bottom of the pyramid and moving toward the top, allows the student to develop a magic trick from its conception to its realization in front of an audience. I applaud Mr. Giobbi's attempt to codify this information.

Card College 4 ends with a cumulative index of all four volumes of the series.

Richard Hatch has again provided an elegant and readable translation. The success of the series here in the United States is due in no small part to his excellent efforts. As I have mentioned in earlier reviews of this series, I wish I had had these books when I was a kid. I know of no better resource for someone wishing to develop skill with a deck of cards. As with the previous volumes I highly recommend Card College 4.

Apocalypse Volumes 1-5

By Harry Lorayne. 8.5 x 11 hardcover. 720 pages. $79.95 postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Orders: 1-800-626-6572. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://allmagic.com/pub.

Apocalypse was the brainchild of Richard Kaufman. He approached Harry Lorayne (for whom he had done the illustrations for Afterthoughts) with the idea of starting a monthly magic newsletter. The two joined forces and the first issue appeared in January 1978. The association only lasted a year, however, and Richard Kaufman left after twelve issues. In the December 1978 issue Kaufman wrote, "Perhaps Harry has what it takes to put out a magazine on a day to day basis - I don't. The constant deadlines are an enormous pressure.. .I like my months slow." In the years to come Richard would start another magazine, Richard's Almanac, found a book publishing company that was responsible for some of the most important books of the late 20th century, and take over the editing and publishing of Genii magazine, a job he is performing admirably. (More information on the first year of Apocalypse can be found in the introduction to The Collected

Almanac.) Harry Lorayne would continue to publish Apocalypse for 19 more years; a remarkable achievement in a field where magazines appear and disappear in the blink of an eye.

L&L Publishing has released a bound volume of the first five years of Apocalypse. Each issue of Apocalypse contained six or seven tricks. Multiply that times 60 months and it ends up being a whole lot of magic. There are 535 items included in this big book, focusing on close-up magic, mostly with cards or coins. Not every routine is a world-beater, but there is some terrific magic here, from people like Dai Vernon, David Roth, Paul Harris, Max Maven, Larry Jennings, Slydini, and many, many others.

During its twenty year run Apocalypse reflected the current state of close-up magic. This bound reprint is a good value for the money and a convenient resource. If you love close-up magic you'll want Apocalypse Volumes 1-5 in your library. Recommended.

Rings in Your Fingers

By Dariel Fitzkee. 6 x 9 hardcover. 120 pages. $20. From Lee Jacobs Productions, P.O. Box 362, Pomeroy, OH 45769-0362. Fax: 740-992-0616. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.LeeJacobsProductions.com.

The Linking Rings is a very old trick, but it still finds a place in the repertoires of professional and amateur magicians. One need only look to the performances of Whit Haydn and Richard Ross (to name two very disparate approaches) to realize the impact that this trick still has on a lay audience.

Lee Jacobs Productions has reprinted Dariel Fitzkee's classic text Rings in Your Fingers. This book is a small encyclopedia of Linking Ring information. Included are chapters on methods of counting the rings, substitutions and exchanges, methods of linking, various figures formed by the rings, and routines with and without the use of a key ring. If you are serious about studying and performing the rings, this book should be in your library.

Lee Jacobs is also offering another item that will be of interest to collectors and fans of Doug Henning. Lee has uncovered a limited number of 3.5 inch buttons used to promote Merlin, The Magical Musical that starred Henning and Chita Rivera. The good news is that these buttons are affordably priced at $10. The bad news is that there's not very many left, so if you are interested get in touch with Lee right away.

The Life and Magic of Billy Bishop

As told by Billy Bishop with Notes by Glenn Bishop. 8. x 10, softcover. 105 pages. $30 postpaid in US. From David Charvet Studios, P.O. Box 23143, Tigard, OR 97281. Orders: 1-800-888-6423 ext. 221-1705.

As Glenn Bishop explains in the Introduction to The Life and Magic of Billy Bishop, the best way to extract information from his father was to engage him in a game of chess. Over the chessboard the elder Bishop would recount stories of his life in magic and the magicians he had known. Glenn Bishop recorded these stories, and they became the basis for this biography of "Bish the Magish," a true journeyman magician.

The first magician Billy Bishop ever saw was a fellow called Wizardo. His show was tied in to a promotion by the Portland News Telegram newspaper. Billy sold newspaper subscriptions in order to win a ticket to the Wizardo show. By age 17 Billy had sold a five-week show to the Lipman and Wolfe department store. The show had a Wizard of Oz theme, and through the show Billy managed to meet Harry Blackstone, Senior. It is also at this time that Billy created his signature routine, "The Bishop Rope Tie." This great comedy routine is in the repertoires of many magicians, due in part to a similar routine, "The Slick Tie," released by Percy Abbott. In all probability, Abbott was influenced by the Bishop routine, since "The Slick Tie" was released shortly after Abbott watched Bishop perform at the 1948 P.C.A.M. convention. "The Bishop Rope Tie" and a dozen other routines are explained in this book.

One subject never discussed over the chessboard was Billy Bishop's involvement in World War II. This seems to be the case with many veterans, who keep their war stories from their families. Billy Bishop flew air reconnaissance missions in the Pacific theater during the war. He attained the rank of Major and received three Presidential Unit Citations as well as many other military honors. Returning from the war he enrolled in the University of Oregon to study business. He met a young singer and dancer named Ann Dawson. They were married in 1949.

Billy and his wife developed an act billed as "Billy Bishop An' Ann." They relocated to New York and eventually played the top theaters and nightclubs, including The Blue Angel, Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, and the Palace Theater. As nightclub and theater work declined, a new opportunity arose - television. Another new market, the trade show, began to develop, and Billy became one of the pioneers in trade show work.

Eventually, Billy Bishop opened a magic shop. It was fairly successful despite the fact that it did no mail order business. The shop provided an income when shows were not available. The shop was open for 12 years.

In 1993 Billy Bishop suffered a stroke. He and Ann moved to Salt Lake City. He died in his sleep on December 26, 1999.

The Life and Magic of Billy Bishop is a story of guts, determination, and hard work. It is a valuable lesson in what it takes to make a living as a magician. Billy Bishop did it all, and he did it well. As Don Alan said to Glenn Bishop, "Your Mom and Dad were one hell of a good act." I enjoyed this book, and I think you will, too.

The Exciting World of Magic

The Complete Introduction to Coin Magic

By Michael Ammar. Available in VHS or DVD format. Videotape: $24.95 each. DVD: $29.95 each. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Orders: 1-800626-6572. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://allmagic.com/pub.

Many months ago I made the suggestion that magic video producers should seriously consider releasing their products in DVD format. DVDs offer a number of advantages over videotape, the most important for magical learning applications is the ability to instantly access any portion of the disc. No longer is it necessary to fast forward through many minutes of video just to get to the part of the tape you want to watch. Sales of DVDs have skyrocketed. Mainstream video rental stores have large DVD sections. This is a technology that is here to stay, and I'm happy to embrace it.

The good news is that magic DVDs have finally arrived. Two new releases from L&L Publishing are available in both VHS (videotape) and DVD formats. The content is exactly the same, but the convenience of DVD makes it (in my opinion) the format of choice.

The two new releases from L&L are The Exciting World of Magic and The Complete Introduction to Coin Magic. Both feature Michael Ammar. The Exciting World of Magic is geared toward someone who is just starting out in magic. The material covered is similar to that which would be found in any beginner's book of magic. There are some stunts with a dinner roll, a few simple coin tricks, the venerable Cut and Restored Twine trick, the coin through dental dam trick, a Linking Headbands trick (based on Dan Harlan's "Linking Rubberbands"), a coin in matchbook effect, and some simple card flourishes. I question the inclusion of a couple of items. I see no reason to tip a trick like Out of This World when there are other suitable beginner's card tricks available. I also doubt the usefulness of teaching the Down's Palm on a beginner's tape. Interspersed among the tricks are bits of practical advice on buying magic, joining magic clubs, and basic rules of magic. A list of books on card magic is also offered.

The Complete Introduction to Coin Magic covers most of the basic techniques that the budding coin magician needs to acquire. Included are discussions of the Classic Palm, the Fingerpalm, the Thumbpalm, the Downs Palm, the Back Clip, several different coin vanishes, and various ways to load a coin into the hand. These techniques are applied to simple tricks including the coin vanish from the trousers, Coins Across, a simple Copper/Silver transposition, and the Thieves and Sheep.

There is some deceptive advertising concerning The Exciting World of Magic. It is being advertised as "co-written with Paul Harris." I received the following email from Paul Harris: "I was hired by L&L to help my buddy Michael with the minor task of structuring the material. As we all know, Michael Ammar is an extremely gifted video producer and this was nothing that Michael couldn't have done on his own, but there was a time crunch, so I was called in to help with the homework. Since the video had nothing to do with my style of magic or writing or creative viewpoint, it was agreed that my name was not to be used to promote the video because it could easily mislead the customer about the nature of its contents. So while I'm flattered that the good folks at L&L still deemed it appropriate to feature my name in their ads, I'd be even happier if people understood that this honor was undeserved."

For someone just starting out in magic, The Exciting World of Magic would be a worthwhile purchase, featuring simple, fun tricks and practical advice. The Complete Introduction to Coin Magic is also worthwhile for someone wanting to learn the basics of coin magic. I'm at bit of a loss, however, as to why L&L put out this video, considering that they have already released David Roth's Expert Coin Magic Made Easy series. Volumes 1-3 of that series cover basic coin techniques extremely effectively, and would have been prime candidates for conversion to the DVD format.

These are the first magic DVDs to hit the market, and consequently they make use of only one rudimentary aspect of DVD technology, that being random access scene selection. However, this is a tremendous time saver, so if you own a DVD player and you intend to purchase these products, I would urge you to buy them in the DVD format.

Watch Bandit: The Ultimate Watch Steal

By Kevin King. $20 plus $3.20 p&h. From Kevin King, Inc., 1317 SE 22nd Avenue, Pompano Beach, FL 33062. Fax: 954-943-1765. Web site: www.kevking.com/reelmagic.

Let me admit something up front. Anytime a product has the word "ultimate" in its title I become very wary. Having been in the product reviewer chair for more than five years, and having sifted through a ton of product, it is very rare to find something that lives up to the term "ultimate." Watch Bandit, the new video from Kevin King bills itself as "The Ultimate Watch Steal." Is it the ultimate? No. However, Kevin does offer some practical, common sense advice for anyone thinking about adding the watch steal to their act.

The tape begins with Kevin performing the watch steal in front of a real live audience in a comedy club setting. Kevin conceals the watch steal within the actions of another routine, and you will be able to appreciate all the lines and the time misdirection that he uses. Next, the scene switches to a studio setting and Kevin explains his philosophy of the watch steal. I won't go into detail here, for to do so would be to give away too much; as I mentioned above, this is practical common sense advice. (There seems one small discrepancy, however, in that Kevin dislikes watch steals that involve violent movements of the spectator's arm to cover the steal. Kevin steals the watch under the cover of a violent, however extremely well motivated, movement of the spectator's arm.)

Kevin then discusses his method for stealing the watch. There is nothing new offered here, and in fact, Kevin's method is less elegant than the one taught by Chappy Brazil on his watch steal video. Ten years of performing this steal has brought Kevin to an impressive level of speed, but if you're looking for the best method for stealing a watch, you won't find it here. Kevin also gives some suggestions on how to practice the steal. Next is the explanation of the covering routine, a very visual card location created by Don Alan. In the course of this explanation, Kevin explains how and when he steals the watch. At the end of the video Kevin answers many questions that many arise when you begin to consider adding a watch steal to your repertoire. There are some funny outtakes at the end of the video.

The production values of the video are quite good, and the material is thoroughly explained. The problem here is simply one of implied expectation. If you think you are buying the greatest method in the world for stealing a watch, you're going to be disappointed. If you want practical advice on presenting the watch steal, you'll find it here. In all probability, if you simply sat down and thought logically about how to present the watch steal in as magical a way as possible you might come up with many of Kevin's suggestions. But if you want to save time and get the work from a pro who's been doing this trick for a long time, then pick up a copy of Watch Bandit.

Business Card Production Wallet

By Michael Sibbernsen. $16 plus $2 p&h in US ($5 p&h elsewhere). From Michael Sibbernsen, 1503 Hammond Avenue, Waterloo, IA 50702. Email: [email protected].

The title of this little prop says it all. You remove a small leather wallet in order to hand out one of your business cards. Opening the wallet, you discover that it is empty. You close the wallet and then reach out into the air with your right hand, producing a fan of business cards.

The idea behind this wallet was published in Michael Sibbernsen's One Man Parade in the Linking Ring magazine (November, 1999). You may want to track this down to see if it appeals to you. The steal of the business cards is not particularly difficult, but it is not self-working. There is a moment during the handling that I think is rather awkward looking, and to minimize this unnaturalness you will have to practice so you can make the steal quickly. You will also probably have to treat your business cards with Zinc Stearate so they will fan easily. Most business card stock will not fan. The wallet is well made and with normal use should last you a long time.

If the effect appeals to you, the Business Card Production Wallet is worth checking out. Magic Poster Reproductions

From Nielsen Magic. Price varies, see text below. Nielsen Magic, P.O. Box 34300, Las Vegas, NV 89133. Tel/Fax: 702-656-7674. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.nnmagic.com

Norm Nielsen is offering some extraordinary poster reproductions. These reproductions are done on canvas and are made directly from the original poster. Each reproduction is individually made. The main limited edition series consists of posters that measure 16.5 inches x their proportional height. (Images measuring 16.5 x less than 27inches - $150, 16.5 x 27 to 37 inches - $175, 16.5 x over 37 inches - $200.) Recently, Nielsen Magic purchased new equipment and can now reproduce any poster in their list at the exact size of the original. These are made upon request. The prices are $200 for a half-sheet (roughly 20" x 30"), $300 for a one-sheet poster (30" x 40") and $650 for a three sheet poster reproduction (approximately 40" x 80"). Some of the images available are T. Nelson Downs "Portrait," Kellar "Walk in the Woods," Chung Ling Soo "Spellbound," Thurston "Mantle," and the Houdini "Water Torture Cell." The reproductions are absolutely gorgeous, and in many cases look better than the original. I purchased one of these as a Christmas gift and I was absolutely delighted with it. Norm also offers expert framing for those who want it. Contact Nielsen Magic for further details.

Reminder Department

Each month a lot of product gets sent to Marketplace for review. To ensure that your product is reviewed in a timely fashion, please remember the following: Include all ordering information, including your address, the price, and whatever postage is required. If possible include a fax number, email address, and web site URL. Our foreign readers appreciate that information. Thanks.

You probably don't need me to offer ways for you to waste time, but there is a wonderful computer game I'd like to bring to your attention. The game is called Thief, and it comes from Eidos Interactive (www.eidos.com). Where as the goal of most so-called "first person shooters" is to kill everything is sight, the goal of Thief is to get in, do what has to be done, and get out without anybody being the wiser. In this way it seems to parallel the goals of the conjuror. The graphics are gorgeous, you move through a completely interactive 3D world, the puzzles are challenging, and the suspense is palpable. You can find Thief I: The Dark Project at a low price at many discount houses. Thief 2: The Metal Age has just been released, and it's as much fun as its predecessor. Pop in the CD, turn off all the lights, and start creeping around. You won't believe how much time you'll waste.

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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