The most fun I have ever had in magic probably occurred from 1972 - 1978. It was in 1972 that I discovered that there were other magicians in my area. Up till then, my study of magic had been a lonely pursuit, with very rare visits to Stoner's Magic Shop in Fort Wayne or Magic, Inc. in Chicago. But in 1972 I learned that a group of magicians met each month at Ron London's magic shop in West Lafayette, Indiana, about a 45-minute drive from my parent's house in Lebanon. (The irony here is that I had spent two years in West Lafayette as an unhappy mathematics major at Purdue University without the knowledge that there was a magic club in town.) The meetings at Ron's shop were casual and really fun. Each month somebody would do a trick, and the next month we'd try to fool each other with versions of the trick we'd seen the month before. It was a very creative time for me, and the best thing of all was that I didn't give a hoot whether the tricks I came up with were practical. I'll give you an example. In 1976 I worked the I.B.M. convention in Evansville, Indiana. I performed my close-up set seated, because I used a lot of lapping. Before I could begin my set I had to attach a small device to the edge of the table and I placed a tin plate on the floor underneath my legs. Obviously, this was an act that could only be performed at a magic convention. Did I care? No.
In 1978, everything changed. An Indianapolis magician named Steve Skomp asked if I would like to take over his gig at Max and Erma's restaurant on the north side of Indy. I thought a very long time about this before I said yes. The reason that this was not an easy decision is that from the age of 17 I had made my living as a musician. During those nine years I had learned that if you love to do something (such as playing the piano), and it becomes your job rather than a pleasant pastime, it is never again as pleasant for you. When you play piano for a living you are no longer able to play just the songs you want to hear; your repertoire is dictated by your audience, and unfortunately, that repertoire includes such masterworks as Proud Mary, Rocky Top, and Feelings.
I took the job at Max and Erma's and, as I expected, my relationship with magic was never the same. Something was definitely lost, but something was gained as well. My first discovery was that almost none of the routines in my repertoire worked in a restaurant environment and had to be discarded. To fill that void I chose from that small body of routines that all table-hoppers perform. As time went on I replaced those routines with original creations designed to fit the performing conditions. My biggest surprise was discovering how few routines in the literature of magic could actually be performed in the real world.
What I lost when I decided to perform professionally was the "play" factor I had so much enjoyed. Now when I saw or read a new routine, the first thing I asked was, "Can I use this in the restaurant?" If the answer was "No," then I immediately dismissed the routine and moved on to something else, regardless of how much fun it would have been to play with the routine. What I gained from making magic my profession was the thrill that comes from providing a group of strangers a theatrically and emotionally satisfying magical experience. Until you've done this, you have no idea what a rush it is.
In my recent lectures, I have commented that if you only perform for your family, your friends, or your buddies in the magic club, I don't really care what you do. You can buy a trick in the morning and perform it that night. This circle of friends, family, and colleagues has a vested interest in your performance. Whether your performance is good, bad, or indifferent, they are going to love you anyway. The problem arises once you step outside that circle and you start performing for people who have no vested interest in you. Then what you do affects me. When you perform for strangers you represent all of magic, and your audience will judge all magicians by what they see you do. This is a pity, but it's true. If you walk into a bar and there's a lousy piano player pounding away in corner, you don't say, "All piano players are lousy." You say, "That guy's a lousy piano player." You have enough opportunities to hear good piano players (either live or on recordings) to know that good piano players exist. Unfortunately, the average spectator only has a live encounter with a close-up or stage magician a few times in his life. When the encounter is negative it is usually so overwhelming negative that the spectator assumes that all magicians share the same negative traits. If I'm the next magician that encounters this spectator, I'm going to have to take some time to counteract this negative impression. The point is this: if you're going to take your magic outside of your circle of friends, family, and colleagues, you must understand what is required of a magician in the real world.
Fortunately, real world magic has been a popular topic with authors in the last decade. People like Eugene Burger, Tommy Wonder, John Carney, Darwin Ortiz, and yours truly have written on the subject. The latest entry is titled Real World Magic, and the author is Jerry MacGregor, who also co-authored The Restaurant Magician's Handbook, Mind Games, and The Y2K Family Survival Guide (and how many of you would like to get your money back for that book?). Real World Magic is an excellent and useful guide for those wishing to make the jump from hobbyist to professional.
Real World Magic is divided into two parts. The first part, "Reasons," contains nine chapters, each discussing an aspect of professional caliber performance. The second part, "Routines," contains routines from Mr. MacGregor and 15 other professional magicians. The routines are divided into Openers, Middle Routines, Mental Routines, and Closers.
The nine chapters of Part One cover such topics as "Learning to Entertain," "The Meaning of Your Magic," "The Magician on Stage," "Selecting Tricks for the Real World," "Preparation and Practice," and "Routining Your Show." Each chapter contains several numbered subtopics. For example, Chapter One ("Stepping into the Real World") gives suggestions on establishing a character, methods for involving the audience's emotions, developing clear endings, and establishing audience rapport. The subtopics are listed at the beginning of each chapter, which is an excellent organizational tool. After reading through the entire book you can go back and easily find those topics you wish to absorb more fully.
If you have spent any time reading works by the other authors listed above, the material in Part One may be familiar to you. However, Mr. MacGregor writes from experience and with a great deal of enthusiasm. He has also organized the material clearly and has offered excellent suggestions. If you want to know what it takes to entertain an audience in the real world, the information is here.
If Real World Magic only contained the information in Part One, it would be a good value for the money. Part Two (which is a little more than half the book) contains commercial routines from professionals such as Kirk Charles, Tony Eng, Carey Heim, Steve Mayhew, George Olson, Steve Taylor, and Jim Pace. These routines incorporate a variety of props and none of the routines is particularly difficult. A few of the routines could have used more illustrations, and there are some crediting omissions, but anyone with a little experience in close-up magic should be able to learn from the explanations. I'm surprised that Real World Magic contains no bibliography or suggested reading list. Considering how thorough Mr. MacGregor is in discussing his topics, a bibliography would have been useful for the student who wanted to expand his resources.
I cannot impress upon you how important it is to prepare yourself properly. When you step outside of your circle of friends you represent all of magic. We are all judged by what you do and the impression you leave with your audience. If you leave a negative impression, we all suffer. If you leave a positive impression then your spectators will be anxious to see more magic. If you have never considered what is required of you, Real World Magic will set you straight. The information is valuable, well organized, and well written. I definitely recommend it.
Pros: A straightforward, no nonsense discussion of what it takes to do magic in real life venues. It may change your relationship to magic.
Cons: The trick section is short on credits. No bibliography.
Real World Magic by Jerry MacGregor. 5.5 x 8.5 hardcover. 304 pages. $39.95. Available from your favorite dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Fax: 916-853-9494. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com.
Tricks of My Trade: The Magic of Doug Conn
By Paul Cummins. 8.5 x 11 hardcover. 194 pages. $40 plus $5 p&h ($15 international). From FASDIU Enterprises, 3703 Foxcroft Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.fasdiu.com.
I don't know Doug Conn, but I can make a couple of guesses about him. I would guess that he is a real world guy, who cares about his audiences and wants to give them an entertaining and baffling experience. I would also guess that he is a serious kick-'em-in-the-head, mano-a-mano, close-up session kind of guy. Material that would play well in both of the above situations can be found in Tricks of My Trade, a big book of Mr. Conn's magic, written by Paul Cummins, himself a first-rate close-up worker.
Tricks of My Trade features mostly card and coin magic, and the real world routines are suitable for table-to-table or strolling magic. A few routines require the use of a close-up mat, and a couple will require a fairly spacious working area. For the most part the plots are familiar: sandwich effects, Vernon's "Triumph," the Collectors effect, the classic Copper/Silver transposition, Elmsley's "Diamond Cut Diamond," Simon's "Call to the Colors," the venerable 21 Card Trick, Matrix, and the "Invisible Palm Aces" effect. As is the case with most close-up magic books published these days, creators return to plow familiar fields. Fortunately, Mr. Conn has managed to produce an interesting crop. Although you probably already know more than enough methods for the above effects, I think you'll find Mr. Conn's approaches intriguing.
For me, the most interesting routines were those that strayed from the well-worn path. For example, a Matrix routine using Scrabble tiles, a coin vanish using your tie, a routine with cards and dice, some great gags with sponge bunnies, a very strange reverse-Matrix effect in which the pips of misprinted card move to the four corners of the card, and a card routine based on Gary Kurtz's "Artistic License" in which two swatches of color blend into another color.
I should mention two other items of note. "Chameleon Sandwich" is sandwich routine with a color-changing deck kicker. The psychology of this routine is very good, and there are enough casual and logically motivated "shows" to make the change of deck color very surprising. Best of all, the routine is not at all difficult to do. The other item I liked very much was "Doug's Theory Section." If brevity is the soul of wit, this is hilarious. Mr. Conn has encapsulated his approach to the performance of magic into three sentences, containing a total of six words. Most importantly, if you were to follow his advice you would be a very good performer indeed.
The text is well written and accompanied by fabulous artwork by Tony Dunn. This is Paul Cummins' first full-length book, and he is to be commended on the clarity of his writing. Paul has also tried to be as thorough as possible with his references, and has perhaps gone a bit overboard. Anybody who doesn't know how to do the Cross-the-Cut Force, the Hindu Shuffle, or the Double-undercut probably shouldn't be reading this book. I'm not sure that references to these moves are really necessary. On the other hand, all the references are grouped at the end of each trick, so if this type of historical information is of no interest to you, you can easily skip it.
There is a very easy way to find out if the material in Tricks of My Trade will appeal to you. Mr. Conn has been very generous in publishing his material in MAGIC. Look up the following issues: May, October, 1994; May, June, 1996; February, 1997; October, 1999. Mr. Conn also had a one-man Parade in the Linking Ring, July, 1997.
Tricks of My Trade is a worthwhile book, with routines that should appeal to the close-up performer of intermediate ability. I wish Mr. Conn (and others of his creative ability)
would finally abandon the overworked plots of the past thirty years and take a stroll down the road less traveled, but I seem to be in the minority. I enjoyed Tricks of My Trade, and I think you will, too.
Pros: Well written, with excellent illustrations and thorough credits. Tricks of My Trade contains routines that will fool laymen and magicians.
Cons: For the most part the routines are variations of the standard plots that we have seen so often in contemporary magic books.
Destiny, Chance and Free Will & Other Presentations
By Allan Zola Kronzek. 8.5 x 11, stapled. 29 pages. $20 postpaid. From Allan Kronzek, 43 Peninsula Drive, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. Fax: 725-3391. Email: [email protected].
This little manuscript offers commercial presentations for four familiar close-up plots. "Playing With the Jokers" is a three-phase sandwich routine in which two jokers capture and eventually turn into two selected cards. This routine is well suited for strolling venues, because all the action happens in the hands. "Destiny, Chance and Free Will" is a presentation for Roberto Giobbi's "The Luck Coin" from Card College Volume 1. (It should be noted that the progenitor of the Giobbi routine is Eddie Field's "Dropsy Diddle.") The third routine, "Hypnotizing Ben," is a really funny presentation for the Kozlowski "$100 Bill Switch." Not only is the presentation a hoot, but Mr. Kronzek has developed a logical reason why the bill should change twice. Finally, "Faxing the Visitor" is a presentation for Larry Jenning's "The Visitor."
I liked Mr. Kronzek's presentations very much. Even though only four routines are discussed, I think that there is practical material here for those who work in the real world. You will need to know basic card handling, and the bill switch is not explained, but none of the routines are technically demanding. (I should also mention that Mr. Kronzek has written a wonderful general public beginner's magic book called The Secrets of Alkazar. It is well worth checking out.)
Look Out World!
By Andy Leviss. 8.5x 11, plastic comb bound. 26 pages. $15. From Andy Leviss, Look Out World!, 73 Stratford Road, East Brunswick, NJ 08816. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://members.aol.com/lookoutwld.
Andy Leviss is 19 years old and lives in New Jersey. He has contributed routines to M-U-M, SYZYGY, and The Magic SYMbol. The revised, second edition of his lecture notes, Look Out World!, contains some very fine, offbeat magic. Eight items are explained, including a word prediction using the game Hangman, two versions of Coins Across (one based on Alan Wakeling's "Coins & Glass"), a method for causing a dollar bill to appear inside a sealed water bottle (the same method is used to cause a bottle of water to turn into a bottle of ice), a psychic spoon-bending routine (you must be seated to perform this), and a strange routine where a chewed piece of gum returns to its pristine, wrapped form.
In addition to the tricks, there are two very useful articles. The first offers suggestions for emergency fixes if props are broken, lost or stolen. (Some of this information comes from Michael Weber's Lifesavers, a wonderful resource for impromptu magic.) The second article discusses the various types of microphones that a magician will encounter, and the pros and cons of each.
Although these are lecture notes, the routines are well described and there are enough illustrations to make everything clear. There's some clever stuff in Look Out World! I think you'll enjoy it.
(Andy wanted me to mention that anyone who owns the first edition of these notes can receive a free supplement by sending a SASE and a photocopy of the copyright page of the first edition to him.)
By Aldo Colombini. Four videotapes, $29.95 each, $110 for the set of four. Postage and handling free in US and Canada, overseas surface mail add $7.50. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Phone: 1-800-626-6572. Fax: 530-525-7008. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://allmagic.com/llpub.
There are a substantial number of magicians (both hobbyists and pros) who are looking for material that is not too difficult to do but which packs a good punch. Fortunately for them, Aldo Colombini is around. Aldo has a knack for creating routines that won't bust your chops but will amaze and entertain a lay audience. This is well demonstrated on the new four volume videotape series Lasting Impressions from L&L Publishing. The focus is on card magic, but there are also rope routines, a Cups and Balls routine, and some gags.
Volume One provides a fine example of Aldo's approach to card magic. The tape opens with a comedy card prediction that would play well in stand-up setting. Of particular interest are "Easy Going," which is a very easy dual Cards-to-Pocket routine, and "Pre-Deck-Ability," which is based on Simon Aronson's "Shuffle-Bored" and features a funny kicker. Card routines from the other three videos that I found particularly worthwhile were "It's a Small World" (a version of "Out of This World" that uses only half the pack), "Sherlock Holmes vs. Dr. Moriarty" (based on a Richard Vollmer routine), and "Four Cast" (which fooled me).
If you're looking for non-card material I would suggest you start with Volume 4 which features several rope routines and Aldo's "Mama Mia Cups and Balls." (This routine is different from others Aldo has presented on video. It uses three different colored small balls.) On Volume 2 you'll find "Rope Puzzle" and "Tightrope," a long routine incorporating fifteen effects. It is possible to end "Rope Puzzle" with a gag finish, but I would advise against it. I don't think the laugh justifies exposing the method. Volume 3 contains a fine rope/card routine called "Meet Charlie." Those of you thinking about buying a snake basket type effect might hold off until you see what Aldo does with an ordinary piece of rope. It's a very commercial routine.
Each of the videotapes contains at least seven routines. (There is an error on the back cover of Volume 2. Three routines are not listed. They are all card routines: "Paramount," "Dirty Dozen," and "Twist and Scam.") In addition to performing and explaining the routines, Aldo chats with Michael Ammar about his (Aldo's) philosophy of magic. The production values of the videos are excellent.
Fans of Aldo's work will certainly want to add Lasting Impressions to their video collections. If you're looking for radical new plots or knucklebusting sleights, you won't find them here. But if you want routines that produce strong impact without using difficult sleight-of-hand, you will certainly want to check out Lasting Impressions.
Pros: Practical, real world routines that pack a good punch while requiring minimal technical requirements.
Cons: A little top heavy on card tricks.
By David Acer. $29.95 plus $3.75 p&h. From The Camirand Academy of Magic, P.O. Box 269, Stn A, Longueuil, Quebec, Canada J4H 3X6. Phone: 1-800-787-6026. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.camirandmagic.com.
David Acer is a funny guy and a fine close-up magician. In previous columns I have commented favorably on his two books, Natural Selections I andII. Extreme Close-up features a potpourri of effects from these two books, plus some material from David's new lecture notes.
Card magic is featured, but my hunch is that the non-card items will be of most interest to real world magicians looking for unusual material. "Around the World in $80" uses Richard Sanders' Double Bill Switch to produce a logical triple-change routine. In "Rink," a borrowed finger ring links itself onto the arm of a borrowed pair of eyeglasses. "Quartermain" was originally marketed by Phil Matlin. Three quarters penetrate a deck of cards and drop into a glass. A special characteristic of Canadian quarters makes this routine possible. Performers in the United States will have to seek out these coins or use gaffed US quarters. "The President's Message" allows you to magically produce a message on a dollar bill. The gaff is utilitarian and can easily be incorporated into other effects. "Madcap" is a version of David Roth's "Karate Coin" that uses a bottle cap.
The card magic on Extreme Close-up is practical but not particularly exciting. "Hofsinzer's Delusion" is an approach to the famous "Hofsinzer Card Problem." David's handling has elements reminiscent of the Scarne "Two Card Transposition" and requires the use of a duplicate card. (Those looking for the most commercial version of this effect should track down Roy Walton's "Grown Up Hofzinser," which uses four jumbo cards.) "The Trinary Cut" is an in-the-hands false cut. It has its roots in Frank Thompson's "F.T.
False Cut." Unfortunately, there is a moment in "The Trinary Cut" where a packet of cards is quickly flipped face-up. This produces a flash of white that, to my eyes, sets off a flare that something tricky is going on. My favorite of the card routines is "Cheap Labor," in which a stick figure man finds a selected card.
Scattered throughout the videotape are comedy bits from various television shows. Some of these are laugh-out-loud funny. However, the production of the video is a little disappointing. Although the video was shot with broadcast quality equipment and the picture quality is quite good, no assisting spectators were used. It's just David Acer standing at a table doing tricks. I think this does David and his material a great disservice. David is a very funny performer and eliminating an audience deprives us from seeing how the routines play in front of real people. David deserves better.
If you are unfamiliar with David Acer's material, Extreme Close-up would be a good introduction.
Pros: A good introduction to David Acer's material. The routines are practical and are designed for real world performance.
Cons: No assisting spectators were used. This deprives us of seeing how these routines play in front of a real audience.
Kenton Knepper's Klose-up and Unpublished
By Kenton Knepper. $29.95. Available from your favorite dealer. Dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies, 2689 Citrus Road, Suite B, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Fax: 916-853-9494. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.murphysmagicsupplies.com.
Kenton Knepper is well known as the creator of the Wonder Words series. On this videotape he demonstrates and explains five close-up routines. Three of these are really offbeat, and are probably worth the price of admission. Before I discuss those routines, however, let's talk about what's not so great on this tape.
Kenton Knepper's Klose-up and Unpublished is a low budget, zero production value project. Kenton addresses this at the beginning of the tape, and makes no claims that the production values are any more than they are. While other low budget videos have appeared recently, the production quality of this video is really pretty bad. You will be able to understand what is going on, but the quality of the video image would have been improved if the room had been better lit.
I found two of the routines on the video to be less than overwhelming - a sponge ball routine, and a card routine in which the deck behaves erratically. The sponge ball routine is a comedy of errors in which sponges constantly appear even though they placed in the pocket. The card routine owes much to Ed Marlo's "The Trick Deck." The deck is shown to have backs on both sides. Then faces appear on both sides. Then all the pips disappear. Then the deck vanishes.
Now let's talk about the good stuff. Kenton discusses two methods for performing the Torn and Restored Card effect. One of the methods is almost identical to Ben Harris's "Hoodwink!" (This was a case of independent invention.) Kenton has some clever touches that are not in the Harris routine and are worth considering. Kenton also offers another method that allows a signed card to be completely restored. I think this method is worth further study. Also discussed in this segment is a stratagem that allows you to hand out the restored card.
Another very interesting routine involves a signed dollar bill. The bill is folded into eighths and then immediately vanishes. The magician opens his hand, revealing an aspirin tin. The tin is wrapped up with rubber bands. The bands are removed and the tin is opened. Inside the tin is the dollar bill, but it is encircled with rubber bands. This is a really clever idea.
Finally, there is a routine in which a signed quarter gets sucked into a balloon. This looks great, and the trick looks really weird. The balloon must be ripped apart to free the quarter. (Kenton then goes on to restore the balloon, but I would suggest against this.)
I'm enthusiastic enough about the three routines I like to recommend this video to you on the strength of them. You might like the other routines as well (they apparently go over well at Kenton's lectures) but they are not to my taste. Be aware, however, that the production values are crude. And that's my final answer.
Stage Hypnosis Training
It is not unusual for magicians to add stage hypnosis to their repertoires. A stage hypnosis act packs very small, plays very big, and is a very popular form of entertainment, especially on college campuses. In addition, a stage hypnotist can charge substantially more for his show than a stand-up magician can.
It is possible to learn stage hypnosis by studying some books on the subject. In fact, I have a friend who booked three hyp shows, then went out and bought Ormond McGill's books, studied them, and did the shows without any further training. But I think the smartest approach is to take some training with someone who is an experienced hypnotist. Scott McFall is a clinical hypnotist who offers a complete stage hypnosis course. Mr. McFall sent along his course materials, and I was impressed with how thoroughly he covers the subject.
Mr. McFall begins with a discussion of the history of hypnosis, followed by the characteristics that define a good hypnotist. He then outlines the stage hypnosis system: the Pretalk, the Call for Volunteers, Orientation of Volunteers, the Induction of Hypnosis, Phenomena to Prove Hypnosis, Group Subject Routines, Individual Subject Routines, and Post Hypnotic Routines. Each of these categories is covered in detail. In addition, there are discussions of stage safety, heckler and audience control, running gags, necessary equipment, and tips on booking the act. Mr. McFall also touches on information of interest to those entering the field of clinical hypnosis.
In listening to the audiotapes of Mr. McFall's seminars, I was impressed with his professionalism. I was also impressed with his respect and concern for his hypnosis volunteers. In Las Vegas there are a lot of sleazy hypnosis shows (and a lot of sleazy other things as well). Mr. McFall's goal is for the subjects to feel positive about their participation, and for the show to be funny without being degrading. In this he succeeds.
I have spoken to several people who have taken Mr. McFall's seminars and all were enthusiastic about them. A home study program is offered, and seminars are held around the country. (There is usually at least one each year in Las Vegas.) If you are interested in entering this field, I would recommend Scott McFall's course. I suggest you visit his web site (listed above) for further information.
By Harvey A. Berg. Intercept: 8.5 x 11, 25 pages. $20. Gospell: 8.5 x 11, 18 pages. $20. From Charlie's Electronic Magic Store, 1498-M Reistertown Road, #337, Baltimore, MD 21208. Phone: 1-888-622-7376. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.magicstore.net.
"Out of Sight - Out of Mind" is one Dai Vernon's cleverest creations. It is not well known, and I rarely see it performed. My guess is that the small group who does use it learned it from Vernon or someone who hung out with Vernon. The trick was explained in a scant two pages in Dai Vernon's More Inner Secrets of Card Magic. There were no illustrations and little presentational advice was offered. An alternative handling, "Out of Sight - Out of Mind II," was published in The Vernon Chronicles Volume 2. The interesting aspect of this variation is a riffle shuffle procedure that effectively positions the required stock of cards.
A few years ago, Harvey A. Berg of New York overheard two magicians discussing the Vernon effect. He went home and worked out a handling and a presentation, and later learned the Vernon method from a videotape by Michael Ammar. (As far as research goes, I consider this unacceptable. It would seem to me that if you're tracking down a Vernon effect, the place to start would be the various Vernon texts. Considering that Mr. Berg counts Dr. Ken Krenzel as one of his associates, I'm surprised he did not immediately go to the above mentioned books.)
The effect is this: The spectator removes a group of cards from various locations in the deck. He fans these cards and merely thinks of one of them. The magician shuffles the cards back into the deck. The deck is spread face-up from hand to hand, and the spectator is merely asked to determine that his card is still in the deck. A couple of mostly innocent questions are asked. The magician immediately reveals the mentally selected card.
Mr. Berg has slightly simplified the Vernon handling, and has added a "fishing" technique (pioneered by Maven, Farmer, and Aronson) to determine the card. While Mr. Berg's presentation is a worthwhile addition, I'm not sure that the "fishing" technique is an improvement over the original Vernon "mental stop" revelation. At $20 "Intercept" is a rather pricey manuscript, especially when you consider that for $15 more you could purchase the Vernon Inner Secret Trilogy and get "Out of Sight - Out of Mind" and whole lot more.
"Gospell" is a routine that allows you to produce a freely named card in an effective way. A deck of cards is removed from its case and briefly spread face-up between the hands. The magician comments that the cards are in random order, except for one card - the card that the spectator will name in just a moment. The deck is returned to the card case. The spectator names any card in the deck. The magician removes the deck from the case and spells the name of the card. The named card shows up at the end of the spelling. (In the case of seven specific cards, the revelation is even more dramatic.)
Stacking a deck of cards so any card can be spelled to is not a new idea. Stewart James was the godfather of this type of effect. In order to arrive successfully at all the cards, Mr. Berg uses four different methods of spelling. He also incorporates the idea of either using the last card of the spell or the card that falls after the spell is completed. Some cards are spelled with the deck face-up, and in some cases, it is necessary to cut the deck before spelling the name of the card. (To me, having to cut the deck is very weak. Fortunately, Mr. Berg offers an excellent suggestion from Ken Krenzel that eliminates the overt cutting procedure.)
If this seems like a lot to remember, you're right. Each card has its own disclosure procedure. The good news is that no memory work is required; Mr. Berg has coded all the necessary procedures into a small chart that can be glued to the back of the card case.
There's nothing wrong with this type of effect, although I think that turning the deck face-up and spelling to the card is not particularly dramatic or logical. "Gospell" is thoroughly explained, and comes with the stack on a small cue sheet and the necessary chart that codes the procedures. The only question is whether you think the effect is strong enough to warrant carrying around a deck just to do this one trick. (For those willing to put in a little work, I can offer a one sentence, completely practical method. Memorize a deck and learn to do an invisible pass.)
Pharoah's Magic Casino Cards
By Barry Govan and Pat-Trick. $20 postpaid. From Barry Govan, P.O. Box 64, Sebastopol, Vic., 3356 Australia. Email: [email protected].
(Before Max Maven has a chance to yell at me for misspelling "Pharaoh", I'll simply say that "Pharoah" is how it's spelled on the cards and throughout the instructions.)
Barry Govan and Pat-Trick have expanded on Danny Archer's "Lucky Lotto" cards to produce a "scratch-off' lotto card that allows you to do fifteen different effects. There are six different scratch-off boxes on the face of the card (which measures 2.5 x 3 inches). The upper three boxes contain a 14 of Diamonds, a 3 ^ of Clubs, and a "Tree of Hearts." The next two long boxes contain "Your Name" and "Correct." The large box at the bottom contains eight small cards, three Aces of Clubs and five other cards. The other printing on the face and the back of the card allows you to perform other effects. There are also brief instructions on the back of the card.
There are various ways you could use this card. You could perform any (or all) of the effects possible and leave the card as a souvenir. You could also simply give the card away and mention the effects on the back. Because of the cost of these cards (you get 25 for $20) you're not going to want to hand these out to everyone you meet. Barry suggests (and I agree) that you only give one away to those spectators who are prime prospects for future bookings. The card will allow the prospect to do some simple tricks for his friends, and in the process will remember you as well. These cards can also be personalized with your information. Contact Barry for details.
I think the "Pharoah's Magic Casino Cards" are a clever give-away. They're not cheap, but used correctly they could generate bookings for you.
(By the way, in his discussion of the 3 ^ of Clubs trick, Mr. Govan perpetuates the misconception that Milt Kort invented the trick called "MiKo." The trick is named for Mr. Kort, but he did not invent it.)
The Universal Thimble Set
By Jeff Scanlon. $29.95 plus $2 p&h. From Jeff Scanlon, 2096 Algonquin Road, #3B, Mount Prospect, IL 60065. Fax: 847-364-1148
A few months ago I reviewed Jeff McBride's new manipulation videos. On those videos thimble manipulation received a thorough treatment. If you've been looking for good manipulation thimbles I would suggest you check out this 11thimble set from Jeff Scanlon. You receive 8 red thimbles, one blue thimble, one yellow thimble, one green thimble, two thimble holders, and an instruction book. The thimbles are made of wood and are about 1 1/16 inches tall, and the diameter of the opening is about % of an inch. The inside of a thimble is rough, which allows it to cling to your finger, but the exterior is a little slick, which cause problems depending on the dryness of your hands. You should also know that these thimbles will not stack. The thimble holders are of a simple design and may or may not fit the size of your hand. The instruction book contains some simple sleights, an eight-thimble production routine, and some resources for other thimble information.
Bringing Origami to Life
By John Montroll. 8.5 x11, softcover. 120 pages. $10.95. ISBN 0-486-40714-4. Available from most bookstores. From Dover Publications, Inc.
It's been a while since I've mentioned any origami books in this column. Bringing Origami to Life is John Montroll's new book from Dover Publications. Twenty-five models are explained, including a dog, a cat, a rabbit (all of these are really charming), a wonderful howling coyote, an African elephant, a hippo, and a horse with a rider. While Montroll has explored these subjects before, his intent here is to "emphasize detail while requiring fewer steps." Many of the models incorporate a seamless, closed back design, which is esthetically pleasing and provides greater stability. In addition, there is a thorough discussion of "wet-folding," a process that allows for more artistic shaping of the model. I should also mention that most of these models are less complex than standard Montroll fare.
In my review of The Magic Show by Mark Setteducati and Anne Benkovitz (February, 2000), I mentioned seeing the front cover, color-changing spheres illusion on a candy dispenser (Houdini's Magic Dial Candy). What I failed to make clear is that Mr. Setteducati is the inventor of this dandy little illusion, which he licensed to the candy manufacturers. The fact that the candy dispenser is molded plastic makes for precision construction and an excellent illusion.
It's Not Magic, But.
In our efforts to master our craft, our greatest enemy is often our own brains. Our practice sessions are sabotaged by our own egos. As Kenny Warner states, "[The ego] guards the door to our inner creativity, tenaciously filtering and blocking any natural, unprocessed ideas. It fills us with the desire for the A-1 certified hipness, the cool sounds, the clever lines. It debilitates us with fear. When we're practicing, it chides, 'Come on! You've got to hurry! You've got to improve by yesterday.'"
In his book Effortless Mastery, Mr. Warner discusses approaches to practicing that are not ego driven. By focusing on the moment and enjoying the process, we allow our hands, fingers, and bodies to do what needs to be done, without the constant stress of our brains pointing out our inadequacies. Effortless Mastery is geared toward musicians (Mr. Warner is a monster jazz pianist), but with a little thought his advice can be applied by magicians. There is a spiritual aspect to this advice that some may not care for. But it is a non-denominational spirituality that focuses on the creative abilities of human beings. I have found Mr. Warner's advice to be enormously helpful.
You can find more information on Effortless Mastery on the Jamey Aebersold Jazz website (www.jajazz.com). If you can track down a copy of the March 2000 issue of Keyboard magazine you can read a synopsis of Mr. Warner's approach.
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