"Oh I'm going to Alabama, with my laptop on my knee." A lyric from the 20th Century version of Oh, Susanna.
The first part of this column was written at the dining room table of Max Howard and Diane Bray. The remainder was written as we motored down the highway heading toward Jacksonville, Florida. (The we in this case is me, my companion Lisa, and Pablo the Wonder Chihuahua.) If you look up Southern Hospitality in the dictionary, there is a picture of Max and Diane holding a rotisserie chicken, a bowl of potato salad, and a bottle of white wine. We had just finished the tenth of ten lectures in a row with a break, and they were lifesavers.
Trying to do the review column while racing around the country is a challenge, and if the column is less cohesive than usual, that is the reason. I'm amazed that I can plug a computer into a cigarette lighter and write while I'm driving down the highway. Arthur C. Clarke was right.
By the way, I'd like to thank Stephen Hobbs for stepping back into the reviewer's job. For those who don't know him, Stephen has authored many excellent books, he publishes a magazine called Labyrinth, and he was the reviewer here at MAGIC before Mac King and I started.
The Dummies series of books was a direct result of the proliferation of personal computers. Faced with a daunting stack of computer manuals, computer owners cried out for books that were more user friendly. The Dummies series filled that need. If you own a computer, you probably have one of their books. (I have two, both on the subject of DOS.) These books present information in a clear, light-hearted way, and have become immensely popular. They have branched out into subjects beyond the world of computers and business, and it was only a matter of time before a book on magic was released. Magic for Dummies is a big book, it is very well written, contains excellent material, and will be a valuable resource for anyone just getting started in magic.
Author David Pogue is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and he has written several other books in the Dummies series. He was assisted by a group of magicians he refers to as the "Advisory Pantheon." This group contains some very well known magicians, including Michael Ammar, Mike Bent, Eugene Burger, Lance Burton, Mike Caveny, John Cornelius, Daryl Martinez, Doc Eason, Bob Farmer, Paul Harris, Bill Herz, Chad Long, Harry Lorayne, Jay Marshall, Jeff McBride, Tom Mullica, Billy
McComb, Jamy Swiss, Johnny Thompson, and many others. These magicians have contributed original creations or have suggested "public domain" routines. Because of this, the quality of the material in Magic for Dummies is extremely high.
The book begins with an Introduction which explains the organization of the material, some information on the history of the tricks, the meaning of the cute icons which accompany the text (these icons provide quick visual guides to portions of text which contain information on prep work, misdirection moments, psychological touches, and tips on performance), and advice on how to learn the material. Unfortunately, in this Introduction, Mr. Pogue continues to reinforce the great lie that learning a few magic tricks will correct all your personality deficits. I am sure that this sales pitch sells books (and indeed, this has been one of the main ways that magic dealers have attracted buyers), but the downside is that it brings into the community of magicians more social misfits than we really need.
The tricks are organized into five categories: very simple tricks with low skill levels and high humor content, simple impromptu tricks using a variety of easy to borrow props, tricks for restaurant settings, card tricks, and parlor magic. There are some really good tricks here including "The Missing Spray Paint Marble," "The Ninja Key Catch, "The Shuffling Lesson," (all devised by Chad Long), Bob Farmer's "Creepy Little Baby Hand," Mike Bent's "Post-It-ive Identification," Michael Ammar's "Photocopied Card," Jay Marshall's handling of the "Bouncing Dinner Roll," George Schindler's "Phantom Photo," and Gregory Wilson's "A Sugar Substitute" and "The Evaporating Sugar." As always, I wish that a few of these were not in a book geared for the general public, but I'm just being cranky. Even if you are an experienced magician, you'll probably find a couple of tricks here that you'll want to add to your repertoire.
The explanations of the tricks are top notch. The instructions are broken into easy to digest steps, which begin with a boldfaced important action, followed by further information which clarifies each step. The friendly icons lets you know about the type of information contained in each paragraph. There are hundreds of clear photos that accompany the text, which should make learning breeze, even if you're a person who has a hard time learning from a book.
In addition to the tricks, you'll find lots of other information, including the ten basics of good magic, ten classic moments in magic history, ten deceased magicians worth knowing about, and ten ways to get more into magic. There are also appendices which contain names and addresses of magic stores, publications, magic societies, and magic magazines. Finally, there is a comprehensive index.
There's not much more I can say. Magic for Dummies contains excellent tricks and information, explained in a way that anyone can understand. If you're a beginner, this book should be at the top of your list. And even if you're not a beginner, you'll probably find some tricks that you'll enjoy learning.
Protean Card Magic
Mr. Gordon has written several books of card magic, and was often a contributor to Harry Lorayne's Apocalypse. Longtime readers of MAGIC may remember that I was less than enthusiastic about Mr. Gordon's first book The Card Magic of Paul Gordon. I am happy to say that I enjoyed Protean Card Magic, and I think those with average or above average card handling abilities will find much to keep them occupied.
Mr. Gordon's approach to card magic seems to have been greatly influenced by Harry Lorayne, and indeed, Mr. Gordon's writing style is very similar to Mr. Lorayne's. You will find four ace tricks, variations of standard plots (such as Vernon's "Twisting the Aces," Henry Christ's "Tally-Ho," and Alex Elmsley's "Point of Departure"), and several useful card techniques. None of the routines require advanced card skills, and all are explained clearly.
With the demise of Apocalypse and Steve Beam's Trapdoor, there will be a lot of card men going "cold turkey" looking for new card tricks to add to their arsenals. Mr. Gordon has announced that Protean Card Magic will be his last major publication. He has gone out on a high note. If you enjoy the type of card magic that appeared in Apocalypse, I think you'll enjoy Protean Card Magic.
A Pasteboard Odyssey
If, on the other hand, you enjoy card magic with more challenging technical demands, take a look at A Pasteboard Odyssey, which contains the card creations of Kevin Kelly. Kevin is a student of the work of Ed Marlo, and his routines show that influence. Kevin has also spent a lot of time with Don England, a man who creates ingenious gaffed card effects. You will find a number of routines which use Don's gaffed cards.
This material will be of most interest to experienced card men. There are many references to Marlo moves and routines, and you will need to have access to these sources in order to completely understand the routines. Some of the routines require lapping, and others require the use of a close-up pad. Depending on your performing environment, you may find these conditions are restrictive.
If you enjoyed the creations of Ed Marlo as exemplified in his Marlo'sMagazines, I think you'll enjoy A Pasteboard Odyssey. The handlings are clever and will provide many avenues for further exploration.
Very, Very Close Volumes 1-4 By Michael Close Reviewed by Stephen Hobbs
I like Mike. Well, actually, I don't really know Mike Close that well; but I like his magic. His Workers series of manuscripts stands as a truly significant contribution to the art — in my opinion one of the best "books" of this decade. Now, through L&L Publishing, Mike is releasing a set of seven companion videotapes to the Workers series. I have had an opportunity to see four of these tapes and, while I have never been a huge video fanatic, I can honestly say that if you enjoyed the manuscripts, you will want to seriously consider investing in the videos.
Here's why I like Mike's approach to magic: Mike tries to find classic plots to work on or, when necessary, to develop new and bizarre plots; he strives to incorporate interesting technical angles and subtleties in his effects for maximum possible impact — in other words, he routines his routines; he is not afraid to employ sleight-of-hand when necessary, but does not abuse or overuse it; and finally, he worries about presentation and has developed a style of performing that suits his own personality.
Now you may or may not agree with all the choices Mike has made; although on the whole I do. You may not like the plots he has chosen, his routining decisions, his choice of sleights, or his mode of presentation — but you have to like the approach: the desire not just to do someone else's magic, but to create and develop your own.
And that's what the Workers series, both books and videos, seems to me to be all about. They demonstrate how one skilled and creative performer developed his own repertoire. Sure, there are ideas and subtleties and moves and plots throughout these videos that you can and will use. But if you just do "The Pothole Trick" verbatim you're missing the point. These videos are a source of inspiration — a guide to what you too can accomplish given the necessary time and appropriate dedication.
All four videos are nicely produced; L&L is to be congratulated on really mastering the art of putting together a professional video package. The performances — before an enthusiastic audience — are generally well shot, the explanations exceptionally so. I particularly liked the "overhead cam" shots of the performer's hands — they really give you a performer's view of the situation without that cumbersome "over the shoulder" or "under the armpit" angle.
Also well done are the "theory" conversations or essays that are interspersed throughout the tapes. These cover a wide range of issues and provide what many videotapes lack: a sense of the performer's thinking and theoretical concerns — an insight into his "artistic soul", if you will. Not every performer can pull this off, but I thought that Mike did an excellent job in this regard.
A brief aside on a trend that is being seen increasingly on magic videos these days: the guest host. Or in this case, hosts — in the form of Michael Ammar and Eric Mead. I certainly understand the attractions of this approach: increased name recognition, perhaps; the ideal of the "small session" in which tricks are discussed and explained; a "third eye" to point out explanatory lapses. But the concept often seems to fall short. Now don't get me wrong, Ammar and Mead in no way detract from these tapes. But at times they seem somewhat unnecessary. Perhaps with a performer who was less sure of his material or his ability to explain it, the "host" concept would come into its own. Here, however, Mike is so certain of his material, and has obviously explained it so many times
— down to the last detail — that, with a few notable exceptions, Ammar and Mead's commentary seems superfluous.
The advertisements for these videos will hit the magazines soon, and you can get a complete run down of the contents of the tapes from them. Allow me to just touch on some highlights.
Volume One is perhaps the most idiosyncratic of the tapes. On the one hand it contains what is undoubtedly Mike's most well known effect, "The Pothole Trick", which is described in exceptionally clear detail. On the other hand, there is a video essay and two tricks involving the memorized deck, something I'm fascinated by, but may not be everyone's cup of tea. Finally, Mike's interest in origami is nicely introduced with the funny and relatively easy to do "Ooh-ah Bird".
Volume Two begins to pick up the pace. "The El Cheepo Magic Club" and "Reynaldo the Great" are two tricks that are theoretically geared for children, but which also play strongly for adults (accompanied by an essay on why having tricks of this sort is a good idea). "Pink Floyd" provides a solid example of how proper routining can eliminate unnecessary "tells" in your performance — here the focus is on double lifts in the context of a packet trick. "Coda Chrome" is Mike's handling of a truly boggling Stewart James' prediction effect. "Chicken Teryaki" is a well-routined two coin transposition with some interesting theoretical implications. Finally, "You Hue" has got to be one of the strongest effects you can do for a spectator: magically print his or her name on several business cards, in the same color pen he randomly chose at the beginning of the trick!
With Volume Three we shift into high gear. "Too Ahead" is a multi-phase coin routine that is very impressive. I passed this one by when I read it in manuscript form, but it looks great — a good example of video catching the essence of a trick in performance. "Lie Detector" is an involved performance piece with a strong ending — very good, but putting it together will send you on the mother of all scavenger hunts. "Four Card Reiteration" is a Dan Garrett trick that allows Mike to talk briefly about palming; but for some "real work" on palming you should check out Mike's tape devoted to that subject. "Rubik's Dollar Bill" is a unique "puzzle" type routine. While perhaps not quite my style, I know several magicians who love to perform this effect. More interesting to me is the "Origami Bill Production" which allows you to instantly transform any piece of paper into an elaborate origami creation. Finally, the video closes with what I think is Mike's best routine: "The Frog Prince". Quite a collection.
Volume Four is devoted to stage or platform routines, a subject often overlooked in the "close-up" world of magic videos. The "Big Surprise" is a great way to frame your entire show — with a little work this premise could be adapted to many different contexts. Two character performance pieces, "A Visit From Rocco" and "Rocco Returns" are both very nice. "Ring Fright" is an excellent stage handling for Ring Flight, without the usual gimmick. "Take a Letter" is an offbeat card-in-impossible-location routine — so offbeat that the audience will never suspect the ending. "Butte Ox? Two Butte Ox!" is Mike's very personal handling of the cards across plot — difficult for anyone else to adopt, for reasons discussed on the tape, but an excellent lesson in misdirection nevertheless.
Finally, there is a performance (but no explanation) of Mike's "Stupid Travelers" — performance only, I suspect, because Mike probably couldn't imagine anyone else actually doing this routine! All in all, a very strong tape.
I want to conclude by addressing a question that may be buzzing around in the back of your mind. Michael Close, as the regular reviewer for MAGIC, has gone on record as stating his preference for books over videos. Why, then, did he decide to produce this video package? Well, I'm sure the money didn't hurt; but no one gets rich off magic video sales. In fact, Mike offered a more interesting explanation when I "interviewed" him about this project over the phone. The Workers material represents a significant chunk of the past twenty or so years of Michael Close's life. Having performed it extensively, recorded it in book form, and shared it with magicians throughout the country on lecture tours and at conventions, the time has come to put it to rest. Mike explained that he is planning a magic "sabbatical" that could extend for several years — a time to relax, recharge, and (slowly, at their own pace) develop new routines and a new repertoire. In the course of this process, some effects from the Workers series will undoubtedly be retained, but many more will be let go. Rather than see those effects lost forever, or to be forced years from now to resurrect and record them for posterity, it makes much more sense to video tape them now. Today these routines are still fresh for Mike — they have an edge honed by repeated and recent performance. Recording them today allows you, and the next generation of magicians, to see them at their best. And by then, who knows, we may have Workers: The Sequel to enjoy.
Way back in the early 1990's, I stood next to Joe Stevens at his booth at the Magi Fest convention. I was demonstrating "The Pothole Trick," Joe was demonstrating Alexander DeCova's "Flash Restoration." Joe was outselling me four to one. Not only that, but he had a most ingenious method for cleaning up at the end of the trick. The moment he finished a demonstration the observing magician would thrust a twenty-dollar bill at him. Joe would ditch the gaff as he pocketed the twenty. The DeCova trick was so strong and so visual that virtually every demo was a sale.
American magicians have not yet had a chance to see Alexander DeCova, and very few of his creations have been published in English. ("Flash Restoration" was published in MAGIC a few years ago - you may want to check it out.) Consequently, the material explained on Treasures, a two-volume set released by Murphy's Magic Supplies, should come as a revelation. These are ingenious routines, practical, commercial, and not difficult to do.
If you can only afford one video, I would suggest that you purchase Volume 2 first. There are three routines here that are each worth the price of the video. The first is "Flash Restoration." A card is selected and torn into pieces. The spectator is given one piece. The remaining pieces are placed on top of the tabled deck. The magician merely places his hand on top of the deck and the card is instantly restored, except for the small piece which the spectator holds. Not only is this effect eye-popping, it is remarkably easy to do.
The second "worth the price" effect is "Professional Card to Wallet." Mr. DeCova has solved a technical problem in an ingenious way, and I was fooled by this trick. Again, the handling is very easy. Finally, I would draw your attention to the "Master Silk Routine." This is a handling for the venerable "Sympathetic Silks." Four silks are displayed on a simple tray. A spectator (yes, that right, a spectator) ties two of the silks together with several knots. The magician drops these knotted ends into a champagne bucket. This action looks completely fair. Two unknotted silks are bunched up and placed into the spectator's hands. The knots leave the two silks in the champagne bucket; they are now untied. The spectator shakes out the silks he holds. They are knotted together. I guarantee that the method Mr. DeCova uses will fool you. I was completely taken in.
The rest of the material on Volume 2 and the routines on Volume 1 are also effective and practical. Mr. DeCova states that he is not a great innovator, rather he is a "fixer," he adds the necessary finesses and details which turn commonplace routines into miracles. I am impressed with his ability to devise such simple, ingenious, and effective "fixes".
Mr. DeCova is from Germany, but his English is excellent. You will have no trouble understanding his explanations. The production values of the videos are only average; only one camera was used, and Mr. DeCova is alone - there are no assisting spectators. However, the fact that only one camera was used will not impede your learning, and the tricks are such foolers that you will appreciate their effectiveness.
I was very impressed with Treasures Volumes 1 and 2, and I highly recommend them. Mr. DeCova has an ingenious mind, and I hope that some day American magicians can see him in person.
Steve Draun is one of America's finest card men and close-up performers. On this video he performs and teaches four very practical and commercial dice effects: Ed Marlo's "Dice Transposition," Dr. Sack's "Spotted Sorcery," Mohammed Bey's version of the Four Object Assembly, and Dai Vernon's "Climax for a Dice Routine." (The Vernon routine is designed to follow the Sack's routine.) Also included on the tape is Steve's commercial Ambitious Card routine.
The tape begins with Steve performing tableside in a hotel banquet situation. He performs the Ambitious Card routine and the Sack and Vernon routines. Unfortunately, only one camera was used for this shoot, and the spots on the dice simply cannot be seen. This renders the performance virtually useless. You'll understand what is supposed to be happening, but if you've never seen the Sack routine performed, the visual impact will be completely lost. The other two routines were shot in a studio setting, and the one camera set-up adequately captured the performances.
Steve does a fine job explaining all the routines, and in particular his explanation of the Ambitious Card routine is a lesson in intelligent card handling. There is some very valuable information tipped here.
I should also mention that included with the tape are seven dice: five regular sized dice, one small die, and one big die which measures 1 3/8 inch on a side. These are not casino style dice, they are the type that you might find in a drugstore.
If you're unfamiliar with these dice routines, you will certainly be able to learn them from Draun on Dice. Add in the Ambitious Card routine and I believe you'll get value for your money. However, I am disappointed with the production values. Both the performer and the material deserved better.
Dynamic Walkaround Magic By Anthony Owen and Paul Andrews
Strolling magic presents many challenges to the professional magician. The challenges involve repertoire (tricks have to be done away from a tabletop and can rarely involve the use of the spectator's hands) and interpersonal skills (how do you barge into a group of people and start doing magic for them). Anthony Owen and Paul Andrews discuss theses and other concerns on the video Dynamic Walkaround Magic. They offer eight routines which are effective in strolling situations, and they discuss how to deal with the many problems which are inherent in such venues.
The routines presented are simple but effective, and they are well within the capabilities of the average magician. There are routines with cards, coins, matches, and money. Two routines which I would draw to your attention are "Pencil Through Coin," which climaxes with the spectator apparently pulling the coin off the pencil, and "Brainwash," which is an interesting variation on the standard "Brainwave" plot.
After the performances, Anthony and Paul discuss various approaches for working strolling situations. Their advice is sound and practical. They then discuss and explain the effects that were performed. Their explanations are clear, and you will be able to learn from the video.
Unfortunately for American readers, the current exchange rate hurts the price point of this video. It is priced at 30 pounds Sterling, which translates roughly to $50. This is a bit high for a video in today's market. There is information of value on Dynamic Walkaround Magic, and were it priced lower (for example at $30 which is standard for videos these days) I would recommend it unreservedly.
It's a Matter of Style By Jason Womack
It's a Matter of Style is a set of lecture notes which accompanied a seminar given by Texas magician Bob White. Bob's name may be unfamiliar to you, because he has published little, but he is a magician who thinks intelligently and deeply about his magic. One of his guiding principles is Erdnase's rule of Uniformity of Action. Many, many years ago, I had a brief session with Bob, and I was greatly impressed with his skill and the naturalness of his handlings.
In It's a Matter of Style you'll find Bob's thoughts on Uniformity of Action, and his approach to several sleights and effects, including a natural Double Lift, an excellent small packet palm, an alternative for the Gemini Count, a handling (popularized by Roger Klause) of the Depth Illusion, and handlings for Peter Kane's "Jazz Aces," E.G. Brown's "Spelling Trick," and Pressley Guitar's "Two Copper & Silver." In addition, there is a marvelous routine for the Torn and Restored Tissue Paper.
In an opening essay, Bob writes that the methods explained in the notes were not designed with the novice in mind. This is very true. I think that It's a Matter of Style will be of most benefit to those who have spent a few years in the study of sleight of hand. Because these are lecture notes, there are no fancy production values. There are also no illustrations. However, the notes are well written, and you will be able to learn from them. If you're interested in the finer points of sleight-of-hand, I think you'll find much of value in It's a Matter of Style. Recommended.
I have been impressed with the products released by The Magic Smith. I'm also a fan of Eric Maurin, who's 1992 booklet Secrets contained some fine material. "Bar Code" is Mr. Maurin's elaboration of Fumio Inagaki's bar code gag. You're probably familiar with this gag, it's in the repertoire of many magicians. The magician holds up an envelope which contains a prediction concerning the results of a spectator's imaginary visit to a supermarket. The spectator states aloud the name of her favorite supermarket and decides on an item in that store. The prediction is removed and it contains a large picture of a Universal Price Code Bar. Mr. Maurin has turned this into a close-up trick, and has expanded on this in the following ways: The bar code is actually a "readable" bar code (a Doug Wicks idea). When the prediction card is tilted the bars become legible writing, and through a play on words it appears as if bars do contain the spectator's item and price. As a kicker, the card is turned around, and on the back of it is the name of the supermarket which the spectator chose at the beginning.
You need to know a couple of things. First, you will not always be correct on the name of the supermarket. Whether or not the name is revealed is an "out." Second, The Magic Smith has done a big no-no in my book and has advertised this product with a very deceptive ad. If you look at their ad on page 23 of the September 1998 issue you'll see that the name of the supermarket is written in the center of the card. But, because of the limitations of the method, this is not where the writing will appear. It appears in a visually weaker position on the card.
"Bar Code" is basically a gag trick anyway, but the ad makes it seem as if you are able to end with a miraculous prediction. You don't. For $10 this is not a bad close-up gag, but if you think you're getting a miracle, save your money.
The "Ball, Cone, and Handkerchief' was one of Dai Vernon's favorite routines. It is also one of the most requested routines in the repertoire of Harry Riser. (Harry's routine eliminates the handkerchief and incorporates a Morrison Pill Box.) However, Ball and Cone routines do not seem to have entered the repertoires of the general magic populace. This may be due to the fact that the required props have not been readily available. Aldo Colombini has come to the rescue with "Cone-tact," which provides you with a cone, three balls, and a silk handkerchief. Also included is Aldo's adaptation of the Vernon routine.
Let's talk about the props first. The cone is 6 inches tall and the mouth of the cup is 2.25 inches in diameter. It is orange-ish tan in color and has a stamped design around the base and the top. There is brown, vertical, crosshatched stitching at the juncture point which forms the cone. The balls are made of a "clingy" rubber and are 1.5 inches in diameter. The silk measures 18 inches on a side.
These props differ quite a bit from the ball and cone set which I remember Harry using. The cone Aldo provides is quite supple; you can easily squeeze it flat. Harry's cone was of a much stiffer leather. Because of this, you will need to learn to handle Aldo's cone with a light touch. Also, Harry's cone was of a darker leather, and the seam in the cone was not obvious. Aldo's cone resembles a folk craft object. Harry's routine (and Vernon's routine) used billiard balls. Aldo provides you with rubber balls. I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: If you look at the pictures in The Dai Vernon Book of Magic and think that this is what Aldo's props look like, you'll be disappointed. This is not a criticism of the "Cone-tact" props, but you should know that the Vernon props look elegant, while the "Cone-tact" props are more casual.
Aldo provides you with an eight phase routine in which the ball is produced from the silk, penetrates the silk, vanishes, penetrates the cone, changes color twice, multiplies, and finally disappears completely. The instructions are well written and are accompanied by many clear illustrations.
If you have thought about incorporating a Ball and Cone routine into your repertoire, the "Cone-tact" set is well worth your consideration. This is a sleight-of-hand routine, but it is not particularly difficult, and the manipulative lessons learned will serve you well in other applications. Should the routine become a staple of your repertoire, you could easily upgrade to different types of balls, or go to the (sizable) added expense of having a cone custom made for you.
The Golden Shells
The Cups and Balls is an ancient trick. While it has long been a staple in the conjuror's repertoire, it has also been used as the basis for a gambler's con game. In Robert-Houdin's book Card Sharpers there is a description of the Cups being used as a money making swindle. The game of Thimble-Rig is mentioned as early as 1716 in John Gray's Trivia, or Walking the Streets of London. The swindle certainly goes back much further. As sleight-of-hand techniques became more sophisticated, the game evolved. In the United States it became known as the Three Shell Game.
Many magicians have included Three Shell Game routines in their repertoires, and recently there has been a resurgence of interest in Shell routines. Whit Haydn and his partner Chef Anton have produced a gorgeous set of props called "The Golden Shells." These shells are made of solid pewter with a heavy 22 karat gold finish. Whit has spent many years experimenting with the design of the walnut shell prop, and the results of his experimentation have been incorporated into "The Golden Shells."
The mold for the shells was cast from a real walnut shell. The interior of this shell was modeled with heat-hardened clay, and the inside and outside of the shell were hand carved and sanded to create correct curves and surfaces. The result of this painstaking care is that these shells are an absolute delight to use. The pea goes in and out with a minimum of effort, and to the spectators the base of the shells appear perfectly flat, apparently making any steal of the pea impossible.
Whit provides you with seven peas. These peas are injection molded and will work on any surface, including glass and marble. They are washable. In addition to the compressible peas (which are used to perform the Shell Game), you also receive a matching "straight" pea which does not compress and which will not come out from under the shells. This can be switched in and left with the spectators for examination.
For your $100 you get the three shells, the various peas, a shot glass which will fit over a shell, and four pages of information about the shells. You do not get a routine. A video of Bob Kohler's Trade Show Shell Routine will appear sometime this fall. Anyone who is going to pay $100 for this prop probably already has a Shell routine in their repertoire. The only negative comment I have heard about "The Golden Shells" is that they are obviously not ordinary walnuts. Some performers prefer to use real walnut shells. Other performers weave a story around the golden shells and how they came to possess them. This, of course, is simply a matter of taste. If the prop appeals to you, you won't be disappointed. I think "The Golden Shells" are great, and I highly recommend them.
"POW!" is a further development of Pepe Monfort's "An Experiment in Black and White" which was published in the November, 1997 issue of Genii. You may want to track down that issue to check out the basic premise of the trick. The original trick used a sheet of paper which was torn into eight strips. This has been streamlined in "POW!" through the use of eight business cards. Here's what happens:
The magician shows the spectator eight business cards each of which has words printed in blue on one side and in red on the other side. It is explained that the words printed in red are the opposite (that is, antonyms) of the words printed in blue. The spectator is shown the cards, one at a time, and he indicates a card by saying, "Stop." He thinks of any word on this business card. The cards are gathered and turned over. The spectator is asked to find the antonym of his selected word. When he indicates that he has found it, the magician reveals both words.
This is a clever trick, and I think that both magicians and laymen will find it quite puzzling. Obviously, with any trick of this nature in which the choice is limited to a relatively small number of words and the selection procedure is somewhat contrived, you are not going to convince people that you are a real mind reader. For that reason, "POW!" is more suitable for a magician who wants to perform a mental-flavored effect rather than someone who presents himself as a mentalist. But if you're looking for a simple, effective mental trick that you can carry in your wallet, "POW!" is worth your consideration.
Magic for Dummies by David Pogue. 7.25 x 9.25, softcover. 369 pages. $19.99. ISBN 07645-5101-9. Published by IDG Books Worldwide. Available at most bookstores.
Protean Card Magic by Paul Gordon. 6 x 9 hardcover. 142 pages. $35. Available from your favorite dealer. Dealer inquires to: Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
A Pasteboard Odyssey by Armando Gutierrez and Kevin Kelly. 8.5 x 11, plastic comb bound. 130 pages. $25. From The Magician! Publications, 1115 Woodlawn, Charleston, IL 61920
Very, Very Close Volumes 1-4 by Michael Close. Each video $29.95 postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142
Treasures Volumes 1 and 2 by Alexander DeCova. Each video $25. Available from your favorite dealer. Dealer inquires to: Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Draun on Dice by Steve Draun. $39.95 postpaid in the US. From Bob James' Magic Shop, 107 Addison Ave., Elmhurst, IL 60126
Dynamic Walkaround Magic by Anthony Owen and Paul Andrews. 30 pounds Sterling postpaid. From Dynamic FX Limited, P.O. Box 27202, London, N11 1WP, England
It's a Matter of Style by Jason Womack. 8.5 x 11, plastic comb bound. 26 pages. $25 plus $3 p&h. From Magicland, 603 Park Forest Shopping Center, Dallas, TX 75234
Bar Code by Eric Maurin. $10 plus $1 p&h. From The Magic Smith, 64 Seafare, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Cone-tact by Aldo Colombini. $65 plus $6.50 p&h. From Mama Mia Magic, P.O. Box 7117, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359
The Golden Shells by Whit Haydn and Chef Anton. $100 postpaid in US. From Bob Kohler Productions, 2657 Windmill Parkway, Box 313, Green Valley, NV 89014
POW! by Pepe Monfort and Martin Kaplan. $15 postpaid. From Martin Kaplan, 817 Monterey Street, #4, Alhambra, CA 91801
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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.