By Jon Racherbaumer
Once again another of the books of my youth is resurrected in a new, more beautiful form.
The original Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields came out in 1968. It was a small, unbeautiful, softbound book, "typeset" on a portable Smith-Corona typewriter. It was Jon Racherbaumer's first book. I must have purchased it shortly after it came out, because I have copy number 8. And I learned and performed just about every trick in it.
Eddie Fields was a pitchman, a carnival worker, a bar magician, a gambler, an astrologer, a psychic entertainer, and, along with George Martz, formed one of the greatest code acts in the history of magic. Fields is a master of psychology, and his love of subtleties and swindles shines through in this updated collection of his magical creations.
The book focuses on card magic, with the emphasis on subtlety rather than knuckle busting sleight-of-hand. The first effect, "Way-Ahead Card to Cardcase," admirably illustrates this approach. A spectator shuffles his own deck and then cuts it into seven piles. The name of the top card of each pile is recorded onto a piece of paper. The spectator decides on one of these cards. This card vanishes from the deck and appears inside the card case. There are absolutely no sleights. Here's another example: A spectator shuffles a borrowed deck. He makes note of the top card. The magician asks the spectator to sign the card with an invisible pen. The spectator then shuffles the deck to his heart's content. The magician takes back the deck and shuffles it. Without looking at the faces of the cards he announces, "Your card is now on top. I can see the signature." The spectator turns over the top card. It is the selection.
From the description of the above two effects, you might feel that this is material geared to fool others magicians, but that is not the case. "Dropsy Diddle" is a wonderful layman effect, and one which I used all the time. "Cool Spell" is another idea which I use to this day. "One and Only" and "Field's Zodiac Card Miracle" are evocative routines which
(depending on your ability at cold reading) can be elevated to heights far beyond their simple methods.
The material from the original book has been revised and rewritten, and many previously unpublished Fields routines have been added. You'll also find contributions from Ed Marlo, Jon Racherbaumer, Michael Skinner, Paul Cummins, and Bob Sheets. (The Sheets routine is particularly fine, and is well worth your attention.)
By the way, in case you didn't know, Eddie Fields is the person who created the "Invisible Deck" presentation for Joe Berg's "Ultra Mental Deck." Near the end of the book you'll find the story of how Fields came up with this presentation, and you'll also find an interesting "Do-As-I-Do" effect using the "Ultra Mental Deck."
Because of the nature of the routines in this book, greater demands are placed on a performer's presentational abilities than his digital dexterity. The end results are unfathomable and memorable mysteries, because the magician "didn't do anything." I love stuff like this. The Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields is an excellent book, and is well worth your serious study.
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