On The Road Again

I'm writing this nine days before I leave on a three month lecture tour. I'll be travelling through the Mid-west, the South, the East, and Canada. If our paths cross, please say hello and let me know how the review column can be of better service to you. I'm interested in your feedback.

The Magic of Jeff McBride By Jeff McBride

Jeff McBride is one of most imitated magicians in the world. His magic incorporates the many disciplines which interest him: martial arts, mime, drumming, dance, mythology, anthropology, shamanism, and storytelling. Those who attempt to imitate him fall short because they copy only the superficial aspects of his act. When McBride performs he shares his life with his audience.

Jeff McBride is also a fine teacher, as those who have attended one of his convention lectures, private coaching sessions, or Mystery School will attest. The Magic of Jeff McBride is a two volume video set which contains the best material of the McBride convention lectures. The format is interesting; on Volume One Jeff performs all the material, there are no explanations. This means that this entire tape is suitable for viewing by your non-magic friends. Volume Two contains all the explanations.

Volume One begins with a performance of the "Commando" card manipulation act. (Be aware that this act is not explained on Volume Two. The majority of the techniques involved can found on The Art of Manipulation videos.) Next is a segment using the marketed item "McBride's Candle." The candle lights by itself, floats, the flame penetrates a cloth without harming it, and the sequence culminates with the production of two bouquets of real flowers. Jeff then performs "Silas and the Slickers," a routine which is accompanied with rhyming patter. This routine is billed as a gambling routine, but it is more along the lines of the "Gambler vs. Magician" plot. The routine is well within the abilities of the average card handler, and the use of a Peter Kane display technique provides a very visual climax.

Next is silent routine using a 260 balloon. At the heart of this very commercial routine is an idea from (of all people) Phil Goldstein. One of the highlights of the tape is the next item, Jeff's performance of "Kundalini Rising." This card rise can be done with any deck of cards, and as the assisting spectator holds the card box, the card rises from it. One of the amazing aspects of this trick is that the card stops and starts several times as it rises from the box. (In his explanation of this effect on Volume Two, Jeff tips Pierre Kuntzman's "Creeping Card," in which the selected card crawls from a tabled spread of cards. It's an eerie effect.)

Jeff then performs the "Water Fountain Production," in which the water is produced from a wad of tissues. The method is easy, practical, and best of all, cheap. This is followed by an excellent Tarot card routine, using a very simple method. For those of you who do cold reading, this little trick may be worth the price of the tapes. The performance segment concludes with McBride's handling of Yoshio Hirose's "Torn and Restored Bill" and a few more card manipulations.

Following the performance segment, Michael Ammar interviews Jeff on a variety of subjects. (More of these interviews are interspersed among the explanations on Volume Two.) Here Jeff discusses his story in magic, and expounds on those people and disciplines which have influenced him.

Volume Two contains the explanations for all the material on Volume One, and it is here that Jeff shines as a teacher. His explanations are clear, detailed, and full of enthusiasm for the material he is explaining. Jeff devotes time to the theoretical details of each effect, and in the process of explaining much peripheral information is also revealed. Whether or not you choose to perform the trick under discussion, you'll gain insights that you can apply to other tricks.

If you are a McBride fan, you'll have already purchased these tapes by the time this review appears. If for some reason you've never heard of Jeff, I suggest you read the interview with him which appeared in the February 1998 issue of MAGIC. This will familiarize you with his "whole life" approach to magic. Whether or not you buy into Jeff's mystical viewpoint, The Magic of Jeff McBride contains much of value. The material is practical, the explanations are excellent, the production values are top-notch, and the theoretical discussions may change the way you look at magic. Highly recommended.

(By the way, you should know that The Magic of Jeff McBride is sold only as a two volume set.)

The Magic of Jack Carpenter Volumes 1 and 2 By Jack Carpenter

Jack Carpenter creates some very clever card material. You may remember that I was enthusiastic about his Expert's Portfolio #1 which appeared a while back. Material from that manuscript and his earlier book Modus Operandi (written by Stephen Hobbs) appear on The Magic of Jack Carpenter, a two-volume release from A-1 MultiMedia. Volume One features card magic, while Volume Two focuses on gambling routines.

Although Jack's material will appeal mostly to those whose skill level is upper intermediate and above, the highlight of Volume One requires very little dexterity. "A Potent Presage" is one of the best self-working effects of past few years. The deck is shuffled by a spectator. The magician removes three prediction cards. The spectator places these three cards face up into three different places in the deck. The deck is divided at the points where the prediction cards lie. Somehow, the spectator has managed to locate the mates of the prediction cards. As a kicker, it is revealed that the spectator has also located a four of a kind (Jack uses the four sevens). And remember, all this happens from a shuffled deck. Two other routines worth your attention are "A Dance for the Devious," and "Pocket Interchange," which is one of Jack's signature routines.

Volume Two is my favorite of the two videos, because it is in the ingenious construction of gambling routines that Jack really shines. The tape opens with "Steppin' Out with Molly," an extremely commercial monte routine which does not require any bending of the cards. The highlight of the video is a series of routines which are tied thematically by the fact that in each routine the deck is shuffled only once: "Four at Once" produces the aces in flourishy manner; "The Sweep Control" loses the aces with a shuffle and then produces them with four quick cuts; "Riffle & Roll" is a demonstration of stacking the aces for five hands with one shuffle; "Nine Angry Men" is a ten hand stack which uses one shuffle; and "The D.C. Hustle" is a one shuffle Triple Duke (that is, the dealer stacks the four queens for one hand, the four kings for another hand, and the four aces for himself). And it happens in one shuffle!

These routines are not easy, but they are not going to break your fingers. You will need to be able to do a passable second deal. Fortunately, Jack takes some time to discuss the second deal on this video, and his sound advice may bring you closer to mastering this move.

Jack is a low key performer, but he does a good job demonstrating and explaining his routines. If you are a reasonably advanced card man and you already have both of the above mentioned books, you probably don't need these videos. But if video is your learning medium of choice, or if you just want to watch the originator perform his creations, The Magic of Jack Carpenter is definitely worth the investment. Recommended.

The Sleight of Hand Artistry of Michael Vincent By Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is a British card man whose dignified and reserved style of performing reminds me of that of Michael Skinner. The Sleight of Hand Artistry of Michael Vincent was taped on location as Mr. Vincent performed and lectured for a British magic club. The material presented is basically one long card act, featuring material from a variety of creators, including Simon Aronson, Larry Jennings, and Ed Marlo. Michael lays claim only to the routining of the material. Effects included in the act are Oil and Water, Follow the Leader, Spectator Cuts the Aces, the Collins Ace Vanish combined with a Henry Christ revelation sequence, a Double Duke poker deal, and Ed Marlo's "One Shuffle Eddie." This last routine has quite a number of things going on. The deck is shuffled face up and face down. The cards are ribbon spread. The entire deck has turned face down except for the four aces. As a final kicker the deck is shown to have separated itself into the four suits, each arranged in order from ace to king.

Since none of these routines were created by Mr. Vincent, what is of interest here is how he has routined the individual effects, how he manages to maintain the necessary stacks of cards, his presentational approaches, and his theoretical discussions. Unfortunately, as far as the average magician is concerned, this act imposes a number of serious restrictions. First, lapping is used extensively during the first part of the act, which means that the performer must be seated. Second, the act requires a considerable amount of performance space. Third, the act, while not terribly difficult, does require above average card handling ability. And finally, the act is long. While there will certainly be occasions where all these conditions will be met, most close-up performers would only be able to use a few segments of the act.

If you are a card aficionado, there is material of interest here, although in all probability you'll already have your own favorite methods for accomplishing these effects. Mr. Vincent's comments on the theory behind the effects are valuable. Unfortunately, this tape is priced at 30 pounds Sterling, which at the current exchange rate means it sells for $50. This is very pricey in today's video market. Because of this, I have reservations unreservedly recommending it.

Draun on Dice By Steve Draun

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.

Card College Volume 3 By Roberto Giobbi

I was enthusiastic about the first two volumes in this series, and I am enthusiastic about Card College Volume 3. Roberto's analyses and explanations of the various sleights and routines are exemplary, and Richard Hatch's translation and Stephen Minch's editing have produced an English version of the text which is a delight to read. Volume 3 is larger than either of the previous books in the series, and it contains the most challenging material.

Included in Volume 3 are discussions of the Double Lift (the handlings here are more sophisticated than those in the earlier volumes), False Displays (including the Ascanio Spread, the Olram Subtlety, Bro. John Hamman's Gemini Count, the Flushtration Count, and the D'Amico Spread), Riffle Shuffle Techniques (including the Zarrow Shuffle, the Pull-through False Shuffle, and the Vernon Triumph Shuffle), the Multiple Shift, the Faro Shuffle, Advanced Palming Techniques (including the One-handed Top Palm, the Gambler's Cop, and the Loewy Palm), Color Changes, the Side Steal, and the Diagonal Palm Shift. In addition to the mechanics of each sleight, Roberto offers "Check Points," which include practice tips and valuable psychological information.

Paired with each sleight chapter is a chapter devoted to routines which utilize the particular sleight. These trick chapters contain some of magic's best card routines, including Vernon's "Triumph," Steve Freeman's "Time Machine," a version of Paul Harris' "Re-set," and a handling for "The Cannibal Cards." All the routines are uniformly excellent.

I would rate the sleights in Card College Volume 3 to be upper intermediate to advanced. Mastery of these sleights (including the devilishly difficult Diagonal Palm Shift) will place you in an elite group. Roberto Giobbi has organized and explained the material in an effective way. All that is required of you is careful study and thoughtful, concerted practice. As I have stated before, I really wish I had had these books when I was beginning my study of card magic. They are marvelous. Highly recommended.

Richard Sanders - Close-Up Assassin Written by David Acer

Canadian Richard Sanders has released some very commercial effects in the past few years. He collaborated with Jay Sankey on the book When Creators Collide, and his routines have appeared in Genii, The Magical Arts Journal, and The Magic Menu. Close-Up Assassin is the first solo collection of his original material, and it contains some fine, practical magic which will be of interest to close-up and stand-up performers.

The book contains 11 items which utilize cards, coins, bills, sugarless gum, and limes. None of the routines require advanced technical ability. Among my favorites are: "Richie's Double Bill Switch," which allows you to easily change a $20 bill into a $50 bill into a $100 bill; "Trick Photography II," in which a selected card vanishes and appears on your ID photo; and "Behind My Back," which would be a great lead-in to other Card on Forehead routines.

In addition, there are two very fine money routines in which a signed bill ends up in an impossible location. The nice thing about Richard's routines is that in each case the spectator himself removes the bill. There is no switch at the end as is often the case in this type of routine. In "Cramped," the bill ends up inside the cap of the marker which the spectator used to sign the bill. "Sour Dough" is a fabulous method for doing Bill in Lemon (or lime). If you do stand-up magic this trick is probably worth the price of the book.

Close-Up Assassin comes with an accompanying performance video. The performance conditions can most kindly be described as "spartan," with Richard performing for a single spectator on a set which consists of a table and a chair. From the standpoint of trying to generate any energy or enthusiasm, this is a pretty tough room. While this situation allows you to get a feel for how each effect looks, it hardly showcases Richard's performing abilities. This is a pity.

David Acer has done a fine job writing up the routines, and many photographs accompany the explanations. Packaging the book with the video is a clever idea, especially for those of you who have a hard time visualizing an effect from the written word. If you're looking for some clever, practical material, Richard Sanders - Close-Up Assassin should fit the bill. Recommended.

Be a Street Magician! By David Groves

You may have read David Groves' article "Street Smart" in the August 1998 issue of MAGIC and thought to yourself, "Man, this is the life for me!" Well, before you hit the pavement, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of David's three volume series Be a Street Magician! These three books will save you time, money, energy, and maybe even your life.

Volume One concerns itself with the nuts-and-bolts of designing a show suitable for the street. Included is information on the types of tricks which work best in the street environment, how to hook and sustain an audience, what kind of money is attainable, how to structure the all important pitch (including suggestions for your tip container), and suggestions for putting street performing in perspective as far as your career is concerned.

Volume Two covers life on the street including finding a performance spot, controlling your crowds, amplification and lighting considerations, romance on the street, and interacting with your fellow performers and law enforcement officials. Volume Three gives you venue possibilities for a number of cities around the United States, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, and New York City.

Here's a real quick summation: If you intend to work the streets you must read these books. Be a Street Magician! contains advice from a man who's been through it, and he's sharing his experience with you. $40 is way too cheap for this type of information. Highly recommended.

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.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! By Doc Dixon

Doc Dixon has taken a well known principle of mental magic and applied it in an interesting way. The magician has a spectator select a card and attempts to divine its identity by mindreading. He has trouble determining the card. The spectator admits that she has chosen the guarantee card. To salvage a messy situation, the magician suggests that she think of one of the words on the guarantee card. The magician divines the word.

The principle here is one which is used in book tests. Doc provides you with a specially printed Bicycle Back guarantee card which has about 100 words of text on it. The stratagem that Doc uses for determining the word is clever and does not smack of "pumping." He also provides an 8-page booklet detailing all the handling.

I think that "Extra! Extra! Read All About It!" is a clever trick, and I recommend it. However, I would advise you to heed Doc's suggestions as to the presentation of this trick. 100 words of text is not the same as an entire book, and the method will probably become transparent if you merely hand the guarantee card to someone and attempt to read their mind. But if you do it Doc's way, you'll have a very nice little mental interlude.

Bar Code By Eric Maurin

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.

Cone-tact

By Aldo Colombini

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.

Blame it on the Heat Department

I inadvertently transposed some information in last month's column. Phil Goldstein is the creator of "Cash on the Corner." "Cash Card" is Shigeo Takagi's trick. Also, in John Luka's L.I.N.T. the excellent handling for the Diagonal Palm Shift belongs to Paul Chosse, not Paul Cummins.

Details

The Magic of Jeff McBride Volumes 1 and 2 by Jeff McBride. $54.95 postpaid in US and Canada. (Overseas surface add $7.50) From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142

The Magic of Jack Carpenter Volumes 1 and 2 by Jack Carpenter. Each video $29.95, postpaid in US, Canada, and overseas surface mail. From A-1 MultiMedia, 3337 Sunrise Blvd., #8, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742

The Sleight of Hand Artistry of Michael Vincent by Michael Vincent. 30 pounds Sterling. From Michael Vincent, 24 Oak-Tree House, 111A Shirland Road, London, W9 2EN, England

Draun on Dice by Steve Draun. $39.95 postpaid in the US. From Bob James' Magic Shop, 107 Addison Ave., Elmhurst, IL 60126

Card College Volume 3 by Roberto Giobbi. 7 x 10, hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 300 pages. $35 plus $3 p&h (overseas airmail $12). From Hermetic Press, 1500 SW Trenton Street, Seattle, WA 98106-2468

Richard Sanders - Close-Up Assassin by David Acer. 5.5 x 8.5, softcover, stapled. 85 pages. Book comes with accompanying video. $37.50 plus $3.75 p&h. From Camirand Academy of Magic Inc., P.O. Box 269, Succ. A, Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, J4H 3X6

Be A Street Magician, Volumes 1 through 3 by David Groves. 8.5 x 11, spiral bound. 145 total pages. $40 (for all three volumes) postpaid in U.S. From David Groves, 2112 Ocean Park Blvd., #5, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

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

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! by Doc Dixon. $12 plus $2 p&h. From Doc Dixon, P.O. Box 68, Sutersville, PA 15083

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

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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