By Derren Brown. 6 x 8.5 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 163 pages. $40. From H &R Magic Books, 3839 Liles Lane, Humble, TX 77396-4088. Fax: 281-540-4443. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.magicbookshop.com
Derren Brown is a rabble-rouser. He wants to stir things up, to shake magicians out of their comfortable complacency. Mr. Brown is a magician/mentalist/hypnotist whose magical paradigm was turned upside down after encountering the magic of Eugene Burger. Mr. Brown writes, "The incident with Eugene Burger made me realize that my magic was missing the experience of wonder. There was no awareness of the emotive potential of magic waiting to happen. No welcoming the spectator into something special.. .I was not treating my magic with the respect it deserved."
In his book, Pure Effect, Derren Brown offers methods for turning a magic performance into a shared experience - an experience that has meaning for the both the spectators and the magician. In Part One of Pure Effect Mr. Brown offers some general suggestions for raising the level of our performances. He writes, "May I suggest that your aim as a magician is to create and manipulate wonder and astonishment while avoiding confusion and mere puzzle-solving on the part of the spectator. There is an inherent beauty in possibly all effects, something that can be found and brought out. If the audience finds a sense of that beauty, and even artistry, it will be easier for you to help them attach an emotional meaning to the effect." I have found this to be absolutely true. Treat magic as an art, prepare your material with the dedication of an artist, and your audience will notice the difference.
My favorite section of Part One concerns performing effects with an element of risk. The risk here is the risk of failure. Mr. Brown offers several examples of bold handlings for effects such as "Cigarette Through Quarter," "Ring Flight," "Stopping the Hands of a Watch," and a mental effect with matches. Most magicians avoid this type of material, but I will tell you from personal experience that the occasional flop is a small price to pay for effects that to a layman are completely miraculous.
Part Two of Pure Effect contains several card effects. These include "Zamiel's Card," in which a spectator's card is visibly produced from an imaginary deck, a very long routine using three selected cards, and a strange routine in which the deck of cards becomes a mobile phone. In addition to these effects there are also some utility card moves described.
Part Three discusses Mr. Brown's approach to mentalism. He notes that mentalism tends to be boring and unconvincing. Mr. Brown writes, "I feel that most mentalists don't perform mind reading. They perform instead the act of writing information down on paper that they apparently couldn't know." What would actual mindreading look like? Would it be a situation where the spectator is made to feel very comfortable and the mental information is extracted during a moment of rapport? Would the process be more violent - more of a mental intrusion? Whatever approach is adopted, Mr. Brown feels that the audience should be given the chance to experience the act of mindreading. In Mr. Brown's words, "However you decide that mind reading is achieved, and therefore what it will look like, you should then do this without explaining this supposed 'method' to the audience. You should just believe, wholeheartedly and unquestioningly, that this is what you are doing."
There are some remarkable effects explained in Part Three, the most memorable of which is "Smoke," one of Mr. Brown's signature effects. Here's what happens. A deck of cards is spread out on the table. A spectator thinks of one of the cards. The deck is squared and the mentalist begins to read the spectator's mind. As he does this he removes a cigarette and lights it. The mentalist correctly names the thought-of card. The deck is again spread out on the table. The thought-of card is no longer in the deck. As the impossibility of thes is beginning to register, the mentalist starts to choke on the cigarette smoke. The cigarette is removed from his lips, and the audience suddenly realizes that it is not a cigarette, it is the thought-of card, rolled up into a narrow tube. The card is unrolled and is given to the spectator as a souvenir.
If it sounds like I was impressed with Pure Effect, I was. Mr. Brown is a thoughtful magician who wants to challenge (and at times shock us) out of our comfortable patterns. The theoretical essays are excellent and should be studied by anyone who wants to improve their magic. There is a downside to the book, however. Many of the routines require that the performer be seated. In addition, the card magic (which is heavily influenced by the work of Lennart Green) is based on moves that have angle restrictions. Few performers, myself included, have the luxury of such working conditions. In the rare occasion that I actually have a table to work on, I am never in a position to sit down, nor am I able to arrange my spectators so to eliminate a view from the vulnerable left side. The trick "Smoke" not only suffers from the restrictive performance conditions, it requires the performer to light up a cigarette, one of the most politically incorrect acts of the 21st Century. (Except, of course, here in Las Vegas, where the Chamber of Commerce encourages visitors to light up. The new state motto here is "Nevada - California's Ashtray.") I fear that few performers will be able to incorporate Mr. Brown's routines into their repertoires.
I would definitely recommend Pure Effect to you. Mr. Brown's writing style is flowery and idiosyncratic. His is a singular and slyly sinister voice. Be warned, though, that in his quest to startle you out of complacency, Mr. Brown evokes imagery that some will find distasteful. This is not your father's Magic Book. Pick up a copy of Pure Effect. Read it and think about it. Your perception of what magic is all about may never be the same.
Dai Vernon's Tribute to Nate Leipzig
Written by Lewis Ganson. 6 x 9 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 207 pages. $40 postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Orders: 1-800-626-6572. Fax: 530-525-7008. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://allmagic.com/llpub.
I have a short list of magicians that I wish I could have seen perform. On the list: Robert-Houdin, Hofzinser, Dr. Elliott, Al Baker, Emil Jarrow, Larry Grey, Max Malini, Paul Rosini, and Nate Leipzig. Leipzig in particular fascinates me. His stage act consisted of close-up tricks performed for a committee of audience members. Those who saw him considered him the best magician they had ever seen. More importantly, he had an approach to magic that I find very appealing as I rush headlong toward my half-century mark: he made people feel that they were fooled by a gentleman.
Dai Vernon knew Nate Leipzig very well, and took extensive notes of Leipzig's material. Lewis Ganson drew on Vernon's knowledge, as well as information from Faucett Ross, Connie Bush, and others, to compile Dai Vernon's Tribute to Nate Leipzig. The book was originally published by Supreme, a new edition has been released by L&L Publishing. The book contains the entire text of the Supreme edition, plus a new biography of Leipzig by David Goodsell.
The book begins with a brief biography of Leipzig, followed by an explanation of Leipzig's card sleights. Then six chapters detail Leipzig's stage act. This includes Leipzig's thimble routine and his famous "Slap Aces" routine. There are routines with coins, handkerchiefs, cigars, canes, matches, dice, and cigarette papers. There is also a large section of card magic. Don't think that this material is dated; Leipzig's material has been used by such top-notch performers as Michael Skinner and John Carney.
I consider Dai Vernon's Tribute to Nate Leipzig to be one of the standard texts that should be in the library of every aspiring close-up magician. The material is excellent, and Leipzig's approach to audience management rewards careful study.
Tatu's Close-up Day
Tatu Tyni is a young close-up magician from Finland. On this video he offers several routines, focusing on magic with cards and coins.
The tape is shot as if Tatu is performing in a park. In the opening routine, he finds a wrapper from a chocolate bar on the ground. The crumpled paper suddenly becomes rigid. Tatu tears the paper open and extracts a chocolate bar. Other routines on the tape are less offbeat. There is a routine in which a coin and a pen vanish, a version of Matrix that concludes with the production of more than a dozen coins, a routine where a thought-of card reverses itself in the deck while the cards are in the card box, and a one coin routine that bears more than a passing resemblance to routines by Roth and Kurtz. There is a routine in which four coins become fused to a spoon, a longer routine in which money is transformed several times, and a single cup and ball routine, using a ceramic mug. This routine culminates with the production of three lemons.
With the exception of the chocolate bar routine (which has antecedents in a Paul Harris routine from Art of Astonishment), the plots covered on this video are very familiar. With so much of a similar nature already available in books and on video, the first question has to be, are these personalizations different enough to be worth your money? The answer, unfortunately, is no. In fact, in the case of the card reversal routine, better, simpler methods already exist. Another negative factor is that Mr. Tyni's technical ability is unimpressive. (For example, he completely misunderstands what David Williamson's "Striking Vanish" is supposed to look like.) If you are seeking out expert models to emulate, there are better videotapes on the market. The production values of Tatu's Close-Up Day are good, and Mr. Tyni is to commended on his ability to perform and explain in English. However, good production values can't make up for material that is highly derivative.
With so much product flooding the marketplace, there is no reason to spend your money on a videotape that offers so little that is new or interesting.
The Party Animal The Office Animal
These two tapes were originally released as part of Vic Pinto's Trik - A - Tape series. On The Party Animal, Simon Lovell demonstrates and explains 50 stunts suitable for amusing your friends at a party or at a bar. There are bar bets, sight gags, little pieces of magic, and some mentalism. These are all stunts that are generally familiar to magicians, and much of this material can be found in general public beginner's magic books. Simon does offer a few new wrinkles on a couple of the items, but for the most part, these items are "right out of the book."
The material on The Office Animal focuses more on magic than on stunts. Again, if you have been interested in magic for any length of time you'll probably be familiar with most of these tricks. There are routines using paper clips, business cards, newspapers, matches, rubber bands and blank checks. As with the routines in The Party Animal, none of the routines require any sleight-of-hand ability.
The Office Animal begins with Simon making some ridiculous comments about using magic to impress/arouse the boss's secretary (and if you believe this malarkey contact me for some low cost Nevada swampland), but other than this blatant reinforcement of one magic's Big Lies, I find little to criticize about these tapes. The production values are good, and there is a lot of material here. Of course, if you're serious about wanting to add seemingly impromptu material to your repertoire, I would suggest you go the source and purchase a copy of Martin Gardner's Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic.
The Inexhaustible Sponge
From Kevin James' Imagination Unlimited.
In 1979 I performed on the Cabaret Show at the I.B.M. Convention in Houston, Texas. It was my first, and not particularly successful attempt to develop an act that combined magic and piano playing. One of high points of the show was the act of Howard Flint. Howard's opening trick was truly memorable. He walked on stage carrying a thin briefcase. The case was placed on a table and the lid was opened. Reaching into the case, Mr. Flint pulled out a regulation bowling ball, which he proceeded to noisily roll offstage, demonstrating that it was the real thing.
Kevin James was impressed with the Flint bowling ball production, but took the concept in a different direction. The resulting routine has been a mainstay in the James repertoire for 15 years. Accompanied by energetic music, Kevin enters the stage carrying a large (18 x 24 inches) sketch pad. Flipping back the cover, Kevin draws a large circle, and underneath labels it with the word, "Ball." He then darkens in three small circles on the ball, and writes the word "Bowling" above the completed drawing. The drawing now obviously represents a crude picture of a bowling ball. The cover of the pad is flipped back, Kevin grabs the pad at the top and bottom and turns it ninety degrees. Suddenly, the music stops and the audience hears Kevin grunting as if from considerable exertion. From within the pages of the pad drops a regulation bowling ball, which falls to the floor with a resounding thud. The cover of the pad is flipped open. All that is now written on the pad are the words "Bowling Ball," the picture of the ball has disappeared. It is a stunning opening routine.
Rarely does a professional magician release one of the routines from his professional repertoire, but that is exactly what Kevin is doing with "Bowl - A - Rama." Kevin provides you with everything you need to perform this routine: a completely gimmicked sketch pad, a bowling ball of the necessary size and weight, the correct type of marking pen, an instructional video tape, and a certificate of authenticity that gives the purchaser the rights to perform "Bowl - A - Rama" in live performances, in trade shows, and on television. In addition to complete instructions on how to handle the prop, the video also contains information on how to replace the pad when you run out of paper and professional tips and hints that can only be learned from performing a routine thousands of times.
At $750, "Bowl - A - Rama" is a substantial investment, but if you work professionally in stand-up magic venues it would certainly pay for itself as a reputation making effect. Also, because it is expensive it is exclusive. You can add it to your act without worrying that every other magician in the world is going to be doing the same trick. (And as an aside, I would remind you that if you intend to do this effect, do the right thing and buy it from Kevin James.) I highly recommend this.
Kevin's company, Imagination Unlimited, is also putting out a wonderful sight gag by Gaetan Bloom. Titled "The Inexhaustible Sponge," this trick was one of the highlights of Gaetan's lecture. The magician has a tray containing a champagne bucket and a small sponge sitting on a table off to the side of the stage. After a particularly grueling trick, the magician walks over to the table, mops his brow with the sponge, and wrings out a substantial amount of water into the champagne bucket. The sponge is replaced on the tray and the magician continues with his act. At several more points in his show he returns to the tray and repeats the brow mopping. Each time a large amount of water is wrung from the sponge into the bucket. This can be repeated as often as the performer wishes. At the end of the act several options are available. The bucket can be lifted and the water apparently tossed out into the audience. Amazingly, the bucket is empty. (Another option is to toss out a load of confetti, or streamers.) All the water has vanished.
"The Inexhaustible Sponge" requires no skill whatsoever. You are provided with a tray and the necessary sponge. You will need to provide the bucket. You will also need to gaff the bucket, but this preparation is minor and requires no handyman skills. This is a wonderful running gag, and the instructions provided offer several different approaches. Even if you don't do comedy magic, this bit could easily be a memorable part of a stand-up show. Highly recommended.
Notes/Chain for Fast and Loose
From The School for Scoundrels. Notes on Fast and Loose: 8.5 x 11, 41 single-sided pages, spiral bound. $30 plus $5 p&h. Chains for Fast and Loose: Gold plated - $70 plus $5 p&h, Nickel plated - $30 plus $5 p&h. The Notes on Fast and Loose can be purchased with any chain for only $10 additional. Gold - $80, Nickel - $40. From The School for Scoundrels, 6213 Sacramento Avenue, Alta Loma, CA 91701. Fax: 909-466-4550. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
The last time the School for Scoundrels appeared here in Marketplace, it was in a review of their excellent shells for the "Shell Game." This time around, the scoundrels (who are actually Whit Haydn and Chef Anton) tackle another classic con game, "Fast and Loose." As Whit Haydn states in the introduction to the Notes on Fast and Loose, this street swindle, also known as "Pricking the Garter," is much older than the Shell Game or Three Card Monte, probably dating back to the Renaissance. The game was originally played with a strap of leather (in fact, Simon Lovell teaches this handling on the Party Animal video). The strap is coiled into a concentric circle, at the center of which are two loops. The goal is for the mark to place his finger into the true center loop of the strap. He chooses, and the strap is uncoiled. If his finger is caught in the center (held fast), he wins. If the strap uncoils without trapping his finger (comes loose), he loses. Because the strap can be unwound in one of two different ways, the operator can always control whether the mark wins or loses.
The game resurfaced in the 18th or 19th century in a slightly different guise; instead of a strap of leather, the operator used a continuous loop of string. This game was often played on the docks, and became known as "On the Barrelhead." The string was laid out in a Figure Eight pattern, and in fact the game is also known as "The Figure Eight." The Figure Eight layout offers two large areas, one of which (apparently) holds fast, the other of which comes loose. However, once again the operator is in complete control, being able to create a layout in which neither side holds fast.
George Blake's Loopy Loop - A Treatise on the Endless Chain, stimulated magical interest in this game. Blake noted that the method of "The Figure Eight" was published by Ellis Stanyon in New Miscellaneous Tricks, No. 6 in 1900. As a kid, I learned "The Endless Chain" from Lewis Ganson's The Art of Close-up Magic, and I have used that routine in professional performances since 1978.
The School for Scoundrels became interested in how "Fast and Loose" could be played on the streets for money. Whit Haydn writes, "We felt that to take an ancient swindle like "Fast and Loose," for which most of the methods and variations have been lost to history, and try to develop the ploys, hooks, and come-ons needed to make it work on the street is a great educational experience.. .What we are looking for here is not necessarily a description of the way the game was played for money, but of a way that would work.. .knowing these concepts can be useful when challenged by a spectator."
Notes on Fast and Loose is a post-graduate course in this fascinating little game. The scoundrels begin with a discussion of the various types of chains that can be used. They prefer the French rope type of chain for two reasons: the chain runs smoothly and tends not to catch or snarl; and the design of the links of a French rope chain help obscure the details of the layout, making it difficult for a spectator to analyze how the chain is laid out.
The next large section of the book contains methods for laying out the chain. Whit and Chef Anton prefer "Half-Table" layouts. This means that half the chain is held in the hands and the other half rests on the table. In addition to the standard Half-Table layout (similar to the one I learned from the aforementioned Ganson book), the scoundrels offer some really sneaky variations, including one that produces four different results: Fast/Fast, Loose/Loose, Fast/Loose, and Loose/Fast. The layouts look almost identical, making life very difficult for the mark. There is also a thorough discussion of the various False Explanations, Come-ons, and Hooks that keep the spectators interested and involved in the game. These are ingenious methods of selling the game's Big Lie: that one side of the design always holds fast and the other side always comes loose.
There is more than enough information in Notes on Fast and Loose for the serious student to devise his own routine. However, for learning purposes, three complete, professional routines are offered, one each from Jules Lenier, Whit Haydn, and Chef Anton. The Lenier routine is lean, mean, and starts off with some good gags. The Haydn routine is a little more elaborate, and the Chef Anton routine is a major performance piece culminating with the surprise production of a bottle of aspirin. All these routines should be studied.
In addition to the Notes on Fast and Loose, the School for Scoundrels also provides suitable chains for the routine. These are five-foot loops of French rope chain and are either 24-caret gold plated or nickel-plated. Whit sent me a gold plated chain, and it looks great and works beautifully. The chains and the book can be purchased individually, but you get an excellent deal if you buy them together.
I can vouch for the effectiveness of an Endless Chain routine. It is necessary to use a gentle touch so you don't rub the spectators' noses in the fact that they can never win, but performed with charm and good humor it is a memorable routine. And with the information and equipment provided by The School for Scoundrels you can construct a routine that will defy explanation. In fact, you may even want to go out and hustle it on the street. (But do so at your own peril.) Highly recommended.
Rainbow Deck II
From Randy Wakeman. $20 plus $3 p&h. From Randy Wakeman, 12362 S. Oxford Lane, Plainfield, IL 60544. Fax: 815-254-2339. Email: [email protected]
A few years ago, Randy Wakeman released his Rainbow Deck, and it was enthusiastically received by close-up magicians. A Rainbow Deck, if you're unfamiliar with the concept, is a standard 52-card deck in which each card has a different back design. It is possible to assemble such decks in bridge-size cards (although it is expensive, time consuming, and often difficult to find decks with white borders), but it is almost impossible to assemble a poker-sized Rainbow Deck. Randy solved that problem by having the cards specially printed. He has now released Rainbow Deck II, which contains completely different backs from the original Rainbow Deck. The images used for the backs of the cards appear to be from a clip art collection. However, the actual images used are of no consequence, what is important is the kaleidoscopic flash of colors you get when you spread the deck between your hands or on the table. Rainbow Deck II produces this nice flash.
Why use a Rainbow Deck? Well, any Color-changing Deck routine is enhanced when the deck changes into a Rainbow Deck. In addition, there are certain prediction tricks (one is included with Rainbow Deck II) where a prediction is thought to be incorrect until it is turned over and shown that the card the spectator selected and the predicted card are the only two cards with a standard Bicycle Rider back. As a kid I performed Derek Dingle's "Color Triumphant" with a Rainbow Deck and the results left nothing to be desired. I would also imagine that Doug Conn's "Chameleon Sandwich" (see Tricks of My Trade) would also be enhanced by using a Rainbow Deck.
If you're having a hard time thinking of ways to use a Rainbow Deck, you may want to order The Rainbow Deck book, also available (for $10) from Randy Wakeman. Twelve routines are described from such creators as Ed Marlo, Clarke Crandall, Jon Racherbaumer, Ken Brooke, Gene Castillon, Mike Powers, Ron Bauer, and Randy Wakeman. None of the routines require advanced card handling ability, and all utilize the Rainbow Deck to good effect.
A couple more points before we wrap this up. The Rainbow Deck II arrives wrapped in cellophane (rather than in a card box). You'll need a spare card case to keep them in. The ink and the pip design do not match the ink and design used in a Bicycle deck. As Randy mentions in the instructions, if you mix Bicycle cards in with the Rainbow Deck they will pass a casual inspection, but if the cards are going to be scrutinized you should only use cards from the Diamonds suit from the Bicycle deck. I also found that the Rainbow Deck II had a slight tendency to warp (and this could be due to the weird heat/humidity of Las Vegas), but keeping the deck in a card clip solved that problem.
All in all, this is a very worthwhile prop. I've had lots of fun with a Rainbow Deck, and I'm sure that you will, too.
By Rob Bromley and Keith Bennett. $15. From Keith Bennett, 152 Yardley Fields Road, Birmingham, B33 8QU, England. Email: [email protected]
This little trick was the most unusual thing I saw at a recent convention appearance in Brussels. The two jokers are removed from a deck and tabled face up. A card is selected (free choice), and may be signed. The card is placed between the two jokers. Immediately the selected card vanishes, leaving only the two jokers. The deck is spread, the signed card is discovered face up in the spread.
The plot of this effect goes back to Alex Elmsley, and there is nothing new as far as effect is concerned. What is new (at least it was new to me) is the gaffed card that allows you to show two jokers when in reality you have only one. The construction of this gaff is very ingenious and would lend itself to other applications. As far as the "Trapped" effect is concerned, only basic card-handling skills are required. The instructions are brief, and no illustrations are provided, but if you have any experience with card magic you should have no trouble understanding what's going on. More experienced card magicians will certainly develop their own handlings.
"Trapped" is a nifty little trick. I think you'll have fun playing with it.
From Media T Marketing. Mind Stress - $20 plus $3 p&h. Alida - $15 plus $3 p&h. From Media T Marketing, P.O. Box 86, Northgate 4013, Queensland, Australia. Fax: 61 7 3266 2635. Email orders: [email protected]rg.au.
Without a doubt, the products offered by Ben Harris and Media T Marketing have the sharpest, most stylish packaging I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I was inclined to summarily pan both of these new releases because the instructions contain the tiniest type I have ever encountered. Even with strong reading glasses I was hard pressed to read the instructions. However, I'll cut them some slack, considering that there are people out there with good eyes, for whom these instructions may not be a problem. But really, I find this to be inexcusable.
"Mind Stress" is a mental routine from Tomas Blomberg. The magician brings out ten little pieces of cardboard (the cards measure about 2 inches square). Marked on each card are forty small cells, four cells across and ten cells down. In ten of the cells are three-digit numbers; the other 30 cells are blank. Each of the ten cards is prepared similarly, except that the numbers on each card are different. The cards are dealt out onto the table. A spectator thinks of one of the numbers on one of the cards. Through a presentational ploy he indicates which card has his number. The cards are gathered, shuffled, and again dealt onto the table. Through another presentational ploy the spectator again indicates which card contains his number. Without asking any other questions, the magician names the number.
Mr. Blomberg has updated the venerable "Magic Age Cards" with an interesting method that only requires two questions. Because the cards are gaffed (in a very simple way) the spectators believes that he is touching the same card each time. One drawback is the small size of the cards. If you are going to do this trick in dim lighting conditions you may want to make enlarged copies of the cards.
To my way of thinking, a trick like "Mind Stress" is a puzzle at best. The use of the completely unfamiliar-looking cards (whether or not you attempt to excuse them with some contrived patter plot) make this look like something you bought at the magic shop. (Which is exactly what you did.) However, many magicians enjoy this type of trick (whether their spectators do or not), and "Mind Stress" is a clever variation of a familiar war-horse.
"Alida" is an "updated" version of a trick called "Floaters" that was released by Ben Harris in the early 1990's. I had heard of "Floaters" from some of my friends. What I heard was resoundingly negative. I don't think that purchasers of "Alida" will be any more enthusiastic.
The effect is this. The magician discusses form and function, and in particular explains how the shape of an airplane's wings provides lift. The magician bends down the long edges of a playing card as it rests on the tabletop. Releasing the edges of the card, the card begins to rise off the table. As it rises the card rotates. The magician shows his hand empty, pushes the card back down to the tabletop, and then hands the card for examination.
The gaff used in "Alida" is smaller than the gaff in "Floaters." It is a common object with two end pieces glued on. For this trick to have any impact whatsoever, the spectators must be looking almost straight down on the card as it rises. Those of you who perform at restaurants will be hard pressed to arrange conditions so that all the spectators are looking down on the card. During the time the card is rising, any spectator who bends down and looks under the card will see the gaff. While the rotation of the card looks weird, it also looks as if the card is resting on something (which it is). It does not look as if the card is hovering. In order to clean up you have to steal the gaff while you pick up the card. There is an enormous amount of heat on the card at this moment. Mr. Harris offers several ways to clean up, but I think all of them are completely unsatisfactory.
I think "Alida" is a complete waste of money.
The Amazing Jumping Arrow
The big problem with paddle tricks is that they look like exactly what they are -something that you bought at the magic shop. The two best paddle tricks in magic use ordinary objects - the Dr. Sach's Dice routine, and the classic effect with a table knife and small bits of paper (John Carney does this trick to perfection). "The Amazing Jumping Arrow" by Mark K. Young unfortunately falls into the category of blatant magic prop. The magician shows a small (3 x .25 x .125 inch) anodized aluminum rod. The rod is blank on both sides. A small white arrow appears at one end of the rod. Another arrow appears on the other side of the rod. One arrow is slid to the middle of the rod. The arrow on the opposite side of the rod is slid to the middle, but as this happens the arrow on the other side slides back to the end. Finally, each arrow is slid to the middle. As a climax, one of the arrows is split into two, one at each end of the rod. The rod is handed out for examination.
There is nothing really wrong with this trick, except for the fact that it looks like a magic prop and the ending is weak. To me, handing out the rod with an arrow on each end on one side and another arrow in the middle of the other side simply gives an intelligent spectator the opportunity to see how the trick works. There is no strong climax. (Compare this to the standard "Jumping Gems" routine that ends with the production of a ruby - a real surprise.) The rod handles very well, and its size makes doing the paddle move a breeze. This type of trick leaves me completely cold, but if you enjoy this type of thing you'll probably have fun with "The Amazing Jumping Arrow."
From Dick Stoner. $20 postpaid in US (International airmail add $3). From Dick Stoner, 712 S. Harrison Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802. Fax: 219-426-1100. Email: [email protected].
Corporate magician Dick Stoner has taken an old gag and turned it into a nice bit for the stand-up performer. The magician shows a large (about 25 x 38 inches) sheet of paper with a drawing of an elaborate casket. The magician explains that he was shopping for a casket, but the model offered by the funeral home representative was too expensive. The magician folds back part of the paper eliminating the canopy of the casket. This process continues, as the representative offers cheaper and cheaper models of caskets. At the final fold the casket turns into a garbage can - a model that the magician can afford.
When Dick talked to me some time ago about releasing this trick in a stage-size format, he asked if I knew the origin of the casket fold gag. I assumed that it was the creation of
Sid Lorraine. However, Dick checked with Sid's widow and was told that the gag was not his. Dick checked with Jay Marshall and Phil Willmarth, and neither was able to pinpoint the originator. The gag is a good one, and Dick provides a complete script. In addition, the illustration of the casket is silk-screened on Tyvek, a material that will not tear. Even a full-time pro should be able to use this prop for many performances.
"A Grave Mistake" is a funny bit. If it fits your style it could certainly find a place in your stand-up repertoire.
By Opus 1 Productions. $29.95 plus $3 p&h. From Opus 1 Productions, 7702 E. 112th Street, Kansas City, MO 64134-2845. Orders: 1-877-OPUS-1-CD. Web site: www.opus1productions.com
Here's another CD with a variety of music suitable for stage magicians and multimedia productions. As with other CD's reviewed in Marketplace, there is heavy use of synthesizers on these tracks. There are 26 cuts of music, with each piece of music themed for a particular need. For example, there is music for a contemporary illusion presentation, music in a pseudo-classical style for manipulation, sentimental music, music for levitation, and music for escapes. There are also shorter pieces of music to be used when bringing people out of the audience, segueing between tricks, and tagging the ends of tricks. The music is generally well produced, offers a variety of styles, and can be edited to fit your time requirements. There is also a goofy, music spoof tagged on to the end of the last piece on the disc. I can only assume that the producers of the music were amused by this, as no one else will be. However, this bit of musical self-indulgence does not lessen the worth of the other material on the CD.
As I've mentioned in the reviews of other CD's, there is no way I can describe music in words. I do think that the music offered on Sounds of the Sorcerer is worthwhile. If you're looking for music for your act, this CD is worth checking out.
Posters from Lee Jacobs
Posters vary in price. For a catalog contact Lee Jacobs, P.O. Box 362, Pomeroy, OH 45769-0362. Fax: 740-992-0616. Email: [email protected].
Lee Jacobs offers a wide variety of magic posters, both originals and reproductions. Lee sent over several of his recent releases, including posters of Ed Alonzo, Fantasio, and escape artist Thomas Solomon. The Alonzo poster ($7.50) is 17.5 x 27 inches, printed on 100 pound enameled paper, and is varnished to protect its color and finish. The back of the poster contains biographical information and ten black and white pictures of Ed (who just won Stage Magician of Year at the Magic Castle) posing with various celebrities. The Fantasio poster ($10) is 17 x 21 inches. A limited collector's edition signed by Fantasio is available for $25. The Solomon poster (22 x 29 inches) shows Solomon stripped to the waist and shackled with a variety of handcuffs and other restraints. All these posters are colorful, interesting, and would certainly spruce up your magic den.
Last month I mentioned that Lee was offering souvenir buttons from Doug Henning's Broadway show Merlin. Lee also has some commemorative solid brass tickets from Merlin. These faux tickets are solid brass, measure 3.75 x 1.5 and are engraved with the same information as an opening night ticket (seat number, date, price of the ticket, etc.). They sell for $20 and are in limited supply, so if you're interested you should contact Lee right away.
It's Not Magic, But.
I'm sure that Robert Orben needs no introduction to the readers of this magazine. Mr. Orben has been producing top-notch comedy material for many decades. In his new book, Speaker's Handbook of Humor ($14.95, Merriam-Webster Inc., ISBN 0-87779629-7), Mr. Orben offers not only useful one-liners, but valuable advice on preparing a speech, rehearsing the speech, dealing with stage fright, assessing and controlling the audience, and the Do's and Don'ts of getting laughs. While the book is geared for those who will be speaking in the corporate world, Mr. Orben's sage counsel will benefit magicians as well.
Was this article helpful?
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.