I walked out of the dealer's room at the I.B.M. convention with a bag containing three large hardbound books, twelve videos, and a half dozen tricks. And that was from visiting just three dealers who had given me new products to review. For several years I have wondered just how long this onslaught of books, videos, and tricks can continue. Will we reach a point where the market is so saturated that the release of new products recedes to a reasonable pace? We may have reached that point, and the slowdown may be triggered by the wholesalers and jobbers rather than the magical buying public. A wholesaler's standing order for 100 of a new video release works when the release is a single video, but if the release is a three, four, or seven (!) volume set, that adds up to a lot of videos to move in thirty days (when the normal invoice is due). I know that there were several very frank discussions at the I.B.M. convention, and one major producer has suffered severe cutbacks in standing orders. We may well look back on the summer of 1998 as the beginning of the slowdown of books and videos. If this is indeed the case, I'll be delighted. I think that so much information is being offered that nobody is learning anything. You don't have time to absorb a book before the next one comes charging through the door. Anyway, we'll see. And no matter how it turns out, the summer of 1998 was hot and interesting.
The Complete Cups & Balls
The Complete Cups & Balls Videos Volumes 1 and 2 By Michael Ammar
Professor Hoffman said, "The Cups and Balls is literally the groundwork of all legerdemain," and he may well have been right. I would imagine that every competent close-up performer has studied the Cups and Balls, whether or not the routine has become part of their performing repertoire. For some professionals, the Cups and Balls is one of the showpieces of their act, others (myself included) have never done the Cups in front of a paying audience. However, whether you intend to use the routine professionally or not, a diligent study of the Cups provides valuable lessons in the graceful manipulation of small objects, timing, routining, and audience management. The skills learned here can be transferred to all areas of the art of magic.
For most students, the first stop on the road to learning the Cups was the classic Dai Vernon routine in The Dai Vernon Book of Magic. But to acquire a greater depth of knowledge, it was necessary to do a wide ranging search, because information on the Cups is scattered throughout the literature. But now that search (while beneficial and instructive in many ways) is no longer immediately required because Michael Ammar has compiled a remarkably thorough and effectively organized treatise on the subject. The Complete Cups and Balls may not be totally "complete," but there is more than enough information here to take a student from novice to near-expert status. The course of action has been laid out in a pedagogically sound way, all that is required of you is intelligent study and concerted practice.
The book begins with an examination of the necessary props and definitions of commonly used technical terms. This is followed by a very simple routine (similar to the old Rub a Dub Dub routine) which would provide the student with an opportunity to become comfortable with handling the props. Michael then begins an examination of the "meat and potatoes" moves of the Cups and Balls: Fake Transfers, Secret Loads, Steals, Fake Loads, so called "Cool Moves" (such as the Charlie Miller move and the Galloping Post move), and Final Load moves. Interspersed with these explanations are discussions of the four fundamental skills of Cups and Balls magic (and, actually all magic): Acting, Timing, Routining, and Misdirection. Included in this part of the book are three fundamental Cup and Ball routines, each of which requires successively more digital dexterity.
Part Two of the book focuses on sequences of moves rather than individual sleights. Included are Advanced Wand Vanishes (including the Mora/Vernon Wand Spin Vanish and David Williamson's Striking Vanish), Possibilities for the Opening of a Routine, Body Sequences (that is, sequences of moves which would be appropriate to use as middle phases of a routine), Final Load Techniques (including information on where to secrete the final loads, timing considerations, and display rhythms), and Ending Sequences. This section concludes with a meticulous discussion of two complete routines: the classic Vernon routine and Michael Ammar's routine.
Had the book ended here it would have been an enormous resource for the student, but there is a bonus chapter. Eighteen profession magicians discuss their techniques, theories, and presentational approaches for the Cups and Balls. Those who have offered their thoughts include Mike Rogers, Bob Sheets, Gazo, Tom Mullica, Paul Gertner, Tommy Wonder, Michael Skinner, Johnny Thompson, and David Williamson. For me, this section is the highlight of the book, and contains invaluable information for anyone who plans on performing the Cups in front of real people.
The Complete Cups and Balls has been a dream of Michael's for over 15 years, and has been in the production phase for 3 years. The dedication to this project shows. While not every Cup and Ball move has been included, those sleights which are included are useful and are presented in a logical progression. In addition, a unique idea has been incorporated into the layout of the book. There are no numbered photographs as in the standard magic book. All photographs are keyed to the relevant text through the use of highlighting and a connecting line and arrow. This is an innovative technique, and in this case works perfectly. As your eyes hit a highlighted series of words, they follow a line down to the associated photo. Then, after the information in the photo has been assimilated, the eyes follow the line back up to the text. There is no need to jump down to a photograph, and then try to find where you were in the text. And in a book which is top heavy with technical information, this is a great idea.
As an aid to learning the material in The Complete Cups and Balls, L&L Publishing offers a two volume companion video set. The videos follow the format of the book exactly, so as you work your way through the book you can follow the associated information on the videos. A huge added bonus on the videos is a series of historical discussions by England's Bob Read. Bob has spent the last 25 years collecting prints which depict the performance of the Cups and Balls. Through his analysis of these prints, Bob is able to give us all sorts of information on the history of the performance of the Cups. His insights are concise, deep, and fascinating.
You should know that the second video concludes with an explanation of the Dai Vernon routine. Michael Ammar's routine is not performed or explained on the videos. In addition, none of Bob Read's information is included in the book (which is a pity, since a historical analysis with accompanying prints would have brought the book much closer to the word "Complete"). The book concludes with a fairly thorough Bibliography, which will provide the student with many more avenues for further investigation.
The Complete Cups and Balls and the associated videos are absolutely first rate, and they are my pick of the month. Michael's love for this subject shows through, and I can think of few people in magic who could have organized such a large amount of material in such an effective way. If you are serious about learning the Cups, I can think of no better resource than this book and its companion videos, and I give them all my highest recommendation.
In the 1960's Bruce Cervon moved out to Los Angeles to join Larry Jennings and Dai Vernon at the Magic Castle. Mr. Cervon's notebooks of the material developed and discussed during this time became the basis for the very excellent Vernon Chronicles series. Hard-boiled Mysteries is the second large collection of Mr. Cervon's material, the first being Ultra Cervon, published around 1990. The emphasis is on card magic; forty-nine of the fifty-two items are card routines or card sleights. Curiously, there is a very large error on the front and the spine of the dustjacket. Stephen Minch is listed as author of the book. Mr. Minch was the editor of the book (this is correctly stated inside the book on the title page). Mr. Cervon is the author of Hard-boiled Mysteries.
Now for the hard part. I was disappointed with Hard-boiled Mysteries, and for you to understand why, I will have to explain my criteria for a good card trick (or any trick for that matter). You may have different criteria, in which case your opinion may be different. But in any case, by taking a moment to explain where I'm coming from, you'll be able to make an intelligent buying decision.
In his later years, Dai Vernon used to say that he spent most of his time trying to eliminate moves. In other words, the less overt handling in a routine, the better. The goal is for the spectators to say, "But he didn't do anything!" Simon Aronson expresses this eloquently in his book The Aronson Approach. He writes, "There is a world of difference between a spectator's not knowing how something is done versus his knowing that it can't be done." I don't care if an effect is self-working, uses gaffs, or requires difficult sleight-of-hand, but I do care that from the spectator's point of view the handling be uncluttered and clear cut. Think about this, and decide what your own point of view is.
In Hard-boiled Mysteries, Mr. Cervon tackles some familiar plots. He offers handlings for Ace Assemblies, The Spectator Cuts the Aces, Poker Run-ups, Wild Card, and The Queens Soiree (in this case done without the newspaper - the four cards penetrate through a wallet). Many methods exist for these plots. We must then ask Darwin Ortiz's question: Is a new trick superior to what has come before in terms of plot, method, or presentation? It is here that much of Hard-boiled Mysteries falls short.
For example, in the first routine "Award Ace Assembly," twelve indifferent cards are laid out into four piles of (apparently) three cards each. The procedure for laying out these cards is not uniform. One of these piles is held in the left hand. Each of the four aces comes into contact with this pile before the ace is apparently dealt onto a pile on the table. The aces are made to appear in the left hand pile. To me, this is a completely unconvincing handling.
Here's another example. In "The Spectator Cuts the Four Aces Once More" the standard plot is followed: the spectator cuts the deck into four piles. The magician picks up the right hand pile and reveals an ace on the top. Then, each of the other three piles comes into contact with the right hand pile as an ace is revealed. The sleight that Mr. Cervon uses in this handling is a clever one, but it is repeated three times, and the touching of the packets is not as effective as techniques used in other published methods.
If you are an experienced and enthusiastic card man, you will probably find within the routines some techniques and handling approaches which you can incorporate into other effects. A chapter titled "Moves and Their Tricks" contains some intriguing sleights, the best of which is "The Insertion Strip-out," a very useful move which was first published in Richard's Almanac. There are also some routines using the Faro shuffle which will probably puzzle your pals at the magic club.
In the Foreword to Hard-boiled Mysteries, Mr. Cervon writes that the effects contained within were assembled in 1984 and that the book was basically finished in 1990. This was about the time when Ultra Cervon appeared. I very much enjoyed Ultra Cervon, and I feel it contains routines which are practical, commercial, and fit the criteria which I mentioned above. The question is: if all the material was assembled in 1990, was there a conscious decision to sort it into A and B material? Who knows? The bottom line is this: If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Cervon's creations, buy Ultra Cervon. If you're a hardcore card guy who has to have every book that comes out, you'll find some interesting things to play with. And if you're anybody else, save your money.
John Luka is a native of Detroit, Michigan. In 1958, two friends introduced him to Milt Kort, one of the unsung masters of close-up magic. John was so enamored of Mr. Kort's knowledge and expertise that he took a job at Mr. Kort's drugstore. Working at the drugstore allowed John the opportunity to hobnob with such experts as Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, Harry Riser, and Ron Bauer, who would stop by to visit with Milt Kort. These meetings instilled in John a deep love of close-up magic, and in particular the kind of magic exemplified by the gentlemen mentioned above.
In October of 1993, John Luka began a column titled "Thoughts On." which appeared in The New Tops magazine. The column ran until December 1994, at which time The New Tops ceased publication. It is very likely that the existence of these columns is completely unknown to you (it was completely unknown to me). These fourteen columns, plus eight more which were unpublished, have been collected into a book titled L.I.N.T. -Pocket Stufffor Close-up Magicians. (The L.I.N.T. stands for Luka in New Tops.) The emphasis is on card magic, and there is some excellent material here.
Mr. Luka has solicited contributions from some of the top magicians in the world, including Michael Ammar, Ron Bauer, Paul Chosse, Paul Cummins, Eric DeCamps, Bill Kalush, Milt Kort, and Jack McMillen. The material ranges from that which will require a substantial amount of practice to master (such as Bill Kalush's "The Fidgeting Card" and Paul Cummins' work on the Diagonal Palm Shift) to routines which require less dexterity (Ron Bauer's interesting handling for "The Lie Detector" and "Key to the Draw," a funny routine by Jack McMillen and Charlie Miller.) You'll also find some techniques and hints for the Turnover Pass and the Zarrow Shuffle, and a couple of commercial coin routines (plus Milt Kort's Invisible Okito Box routine, which should give your magic buddies a chuckle).
There is some fine material here, and at $30 for 22 items, the price is certainly reasonable. If you're looking for close-up routines, L.I.N.T. is definitely worth checking out. Recommended.
By Richard Bartram, Jr.
Trephine is a book of surprises. For me, one surprise came as I typed the title into Microsoft Word. The spellchecker didn't give me an error message. (My normal routine is to type in the Details information before I begin to study the review product.) Trephine is a real (albeit obscure) word. I will not spoil the surprise for you by telling you what it means. Trephine contains an eclectic mix of card, coin, mental, and miscellaneous magic, tied together by an offbeat and intriguing story.
As explained in the introduction of Trephine, the original manuscript was offered to Mr. Bartram in a collection of abandoned magic. The author of the manuscript was apparently a magician who was wrongly incarcerated in a mental institution, and who created the effects during the course of his confinement. Whether you choose to believe this tale or not, the story of this magician's internment allows for some marvelously satiric jabs at the present state of affairs in the world of magic. If you are very thin skinned, you may find that your comfort zones are somewhat invaded. I found this "back story" and its eventual payoff (which explains the title of the book) to be hilarious.
What about the magic? It is uniformly good, and is well within the abilities of the average magician. There are some very offbeat ideas, including a few truly tasteless and funny stunts (imagine the pandemonium when you perform the Steve Matthews shoelace penetration and the spectator's pinky goes flying through the air). Contributors include Evert Chapman, Matt Grover, John Alley, Gary Plants, and the nearly mythic Paul Swinford. (Paul's routine with the old Hindu Prayer Chain is a fooler, and a great addition to your arsenal of sneaky routines with "slum" props.) In all likelihood you'll find several items to add to your repertoire. I know I did.
Trephine is a unique and offbeat book: good, practical material, presented in a distinctive way. I enjoyed it very much, and I think you will too. Recommended.
I first encountered the name Michael Bailey in 1972, when I read a review of the S.A.M. National Convention in Genii. I remember his name turning up in print a few times after that, and then all of a sudden he dropped off the planet, and I never heard anything else about him. Well, of course, he hadn't disappeared, he had merely turned his attention away from the world of magic conventions and toward the world of corporate magic. And in this field he has been enormously successful, spending the past 25 years as one of the busiest trade show magicians in England. He has written a very big book titled The Magic Business, in which he thoroughly presents the information you'll need to know if you want to enter this challenging and demanding field.
The Magic Business is divided into three parts: The Exhibition Business, The Meeting Business, and Any Other Business. Part one discusses trade shows, part two is about incorporating magic into sales meeting, and part three offers suggestions for other magical markets in the corporate world. In each of the three parts Mr. Bailey holds nothing back. He presents information on how to get work, how to make the pitch, effects which work well in a trade show setting, how to write the script, and how to promote yourself and the people you're working for. You'll find examples of illusions, giveaways, sales letters, contracts, and full scripts. There is a ton of material here, and Mr. Bailey presents it in a clear, understandable way.
At 390 pages, this is a big, big book. At $100, it's not cheap. However, if you have any interest in trade show work (and it seems like every magician I talk to these days wants to do trade show work), The Magic Business will save you time and money, and gives you insights which can only be gained from years of experience. Combine this book with Dick Ryan's books and you have a postgraduate course in the business of corporate magic. I believe that The Magic Business will become a standard reference for trade show magic. I highly recommend it.
Michael Skinner's Professional Close-up Magic Volumes 1-4 Michael Skinner's Master Teach-in Series Volumes 1-3 By Michael Skinner
In my January 1997 review of Michael Skinner's Classic Sampler, I mentioned that a lot of people were disappointed that the book did not contain more routines from Michael's enormous repertoire. If you were one of those who were lusting for more Skinner material, rejoice! A-1 MultiMedia has released seven Michael Skinner videotapes. The four volume Michael Skinner's Professional Close-up Magic contains 37 close-up routines, with an emphasis on card magic. The Michael Skinner Teach-in Series is comprised of three videos, each of which contains the performance and explanation of one non-card close-up routine.
On all these videos, Roger Klause joins Michael for interviews and reminiscences, and he lends a hand during the explanation segments. On the first of the Professional Close-up Magic videos, Michael explains that he currently takes a medication which (as a side effect) produces a trembling in his hands. These tremors are noticeable on all seven videos, but they do not inhibit Michael's technical ability, nor are they particularly distracting.
Michael Skinner is not a great innovator of new effects or sleights. Rather, he is the master of finesse, and he has the ability to refine an effect to the point where minimum effort produces maximum impact. Consequently, you will find familiar plots here, but the methods have been streamlined to the nth degree. Understand, however, that efficient does not mean easy. Michael is one of the finest technicians around, and some of the routines require advanced sleight-of-hand ability. (For example, you'll need to be comfortable with the bottom deal and the classic side steal.) But there are also routines which require only average ability, so a nice mixture of skill levels is represented here.
Michael's fans will want all four tapes, but if you are unfamiliar with his work, or if you're on a budget, I would suggest starting with Michael Skinner's Professional Close-up Magic Volume 3. Included are Michael's handling of "The Flying Eagles," a routine for the Ball Vase (this is another fooler using a "slum" item), a very commercial version of Ed Marlo's "Push Through Failure," an excellent Ambitious Card routine, and "2nds, 3rds, 4ths, & 5ths," a Vernon/Cervon creation which began life as a small packet Ambitious Card routine, and which Michael has turned into a demonstration of otherworldly card dealing skill. Not only does this tape give you a feel for Michael's performing style and creative approach, but any of the above five routines could find an immediate place in your repertoire.
Each of the three Master Teach-in Series videos focuses on a single routine. Included are Michael's close-up three ring Linking Ring routine, a brief routine for the color changing knives, and two methods for performing the "Ring on the Stick." The Linking Ring routine is a pretty one, designed to be performed tableside. It includes a little seen Al Koran move and a method for switching out the key ring at the end of the routine. The color changing knives routine is simple but effective, and lasts about a minute. Both methods for the ring on stick are commercial and practical. One method uses a handkerchief, the other uses a duplicate ring.
I believe that all the material offered on these seven tapes is of value to the close-up performer. The only question is how much money do you want to spend and when do you want to spend it. A few of the routines are specifically designed to bamboozle fellow magicians, but the majority of the magic is designed for lay consumption. My only minor quibble is that the three routines from the Master Teach-in Series could have been released on one video. However, all the tapes offer good value for the money. Michael Skinner has made his living from the material demonstrated on these videos, and you can probably do the same. I recommend all of them.
This video was originally released by Mark Leveridge Magic, and it captures Tommy Wonder lecturing at a British Close-up Magic Symposium in 1991. This is a lecture which Tommy has given several times in the United States, and it never fails to generate a strong reaction from the magicians in attendance. The material includes a handling of a Paul Harris Torn and Restored Card (with a method for restoring the last piece), a very visual transformation of a cigarette lighter into a box of matches, and a multi-phased Ambitious Card routine which incorporates Tommy's excellent handling for the "Card in the Box," a lightning fast version of the Mercury Card Fold, and a mind blowing finale in which the entire deck of cards is visually jammed back into a miniature card box.
All these routines are described in the Books of Wonder, but words cannot do justice to how completely baffling they are. Tommy's explanations are thorough, and he expounds on all the theoretical aspects which are the true secrets of magic. This video was shot live at the lecture, but the camera work was good, and you'll be able to appreciate and understand everything you see.
Tommy Wonder is one of the great magicians on the planet, and when he talks, I listen. I've seen this lecture several times, but I was happy to watch it again. (And I was reminded of some things that I had forgotten.) You'll learn, too. Recommended.
On the Pass
Basic Card Technique
On the Pass is a re-release of a video which originally appeared sometime in the 1980's. Richard Kaufman demonstrates and explains many types of passes, including the Classic Pass, the Riffle Pass, several forms of the Jiggle Pass, and the Herrmann Pass and its Turnover pass variants (including Steve Draun's excellent Midnight Shift). Also included are five routines which utilize the various passes. All the routines are good, but because they are designed to showcase the pass, you may feel that they overuse the move.
Every expert practitioner of the pass has his own opinions on how to perform the move properly and effectively. On the Pass provides solid, basic information, and I recommend it. I would also suggest that if you are serious about learning the Pass that you invest in Jim Swain's books and videos.
Basic Card Technique is a compendium of standard card moves. If you master these moves you will probably be able to negotiate most average and low intermediate level card tricks. Richard demonstrates and explains the moves well, and you will be able to learn from the video. I believe that a tape like this is most useful when combined with a text like Royal Road to Card Magic or Roberto Giobbi's Card College.
The cut shots which introduce each sleight are either really hip or unbelievably goofy, depending on your taste. The ad copy for this video asks, "Why buy ten tapes and watch lots of moves you'll never use? Buy this tape and learn exactly what you need." I assume that this is a reference to Daryl's Encyclopedia of Card Sleights. Well, I'm not sure how Richard knows exactly what I (or you) need, and I've always felt that the more you know, the more you know. However, if you're a newcomer to card magic, and you just want to get some standard moves under your belt so you can do a few tricks for your friends, then you'll find what you need in Basic Card Technique, and for that purpose I recommend it.
Todd Strong is a juggler who has come up with some cool dice stacking moves. These are showcased on The Dice Stacking Video. Todd has an excellent method for learning to stack dice, and he clearly explains this, along with various stacking variations (squares, diamonds, pairs, etc.), aerial stacking techniques, methods for un-stacking dice, and techniques for stacking many dice, tiny dice, and things other than dice.
Since Todd does not offer a dice stacking routine, Mike Maxwell demonstrates and explains (with permission) Clarke Crandall's Dice Stacking Routine. This is a commercial routine which culminates with the appearance of big dice under the dice cup.
If you're a dice stacker, The Dice Stacking Video will give you some new stuff to practice. And if you combine this video with the recently released Jim Zachary video, you'll be well on your way towards being the Dice Stacking Master of the Universe. Recommended.
Hello, Sucker! By Harry Anderson
This performance by Harry Anderson was taped in 1985 and was originally broadcast on the Showtime cable network. This is Harry the Hat at his prime, doing classic routines like the "Buffalo Bill" ("We're doing a money trick!"), "Cuff Links," "The Needle
Through Arm," and "Monarch Monte." You'll catch glimpses of Mike Caveney and Tina Lenert (why use stooges when you've got friends), and there is a series of running gags which involve Harry conning Turk Pipkin.
Hello, Sucker! is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it. Be aware, however, that the performance does contain some adult language.
Cash Card & Cash on the Corner By Phil Goldstein and Shigeo Takagi
Victor and Marcelo Contento have manufactured and released the special plastic folders which are required to perform Phil Goldstein's "Cash Card," and Shigeo Takagi's "Cash on the Corner." In both routines blank pieces of paper are placed into one side of each folder, and the paper magically becomes real money. The Goldstein routine in particular features a blow-off which is both puzzling and extremely convincing. Either routine would be excellent for table hopping, bar magic, or stand-up in front of a small audience. Recommended.
Sprizzer Thumbs-Up From Inferno, USA
Creative Enterprise of Switzerland, the people who brought you "Inferno," have come up with two new things to put on your fingers. The first, "Sprizzer," allows you to produce a squirt of water (or whatever liquid you've filled the thing with) from your bare hand. The instructions give you some basic ideas on how to use the thing, but if you really want to exploit the device you'll need to purchase the Sprizzer Movie. This showcases the way in which the "Sprizzer" can simulate sneezes, popped pimples, and other amusing bodily discharges. The ad for "Sprizzer" makes it seem as if you can produce smoke from the device, but this is a little deceptive. The smoke is simulated and is produced by filling the "Sprizzer" with baby powder.
I think that "Sprizzer" could be fun to use as a gag and that's about it. The instructions give methods for putting on the gimmick secretly, but I doubt their effectiveness, and when I consider the actual effect, I'm not so sure it's worth the effort anyway. I can see this being used as a gag, but it's your call whether you'll get $20 worth of fun from it.
On the other hand, I see absolutely no reason whatsoever for the existence of "Thumbs-up," an extremely realistic, soft plastic thumb tip. First, I would pan this just for the illegible instructions which come with it. I am 45 years old, have very good eyes for my age, and I can't read the instructions without a magnifying glass. This is inexcusable. Second, the extremely soft rubber makes this thumb tip very difficult to work with. You're going to have to coat the inside with baby powder to get it to slide on and off at all. And doing a move such as the $100 Bill Switch is extremely difficult because the bill hangs up as you try to load it into the tip. Third, if you personally believe that a thumb tip has to look totally realistic in order to fool people, then you need to learn a lot more about how magic works. Trust me, this kind of verisimilitude is absolutely unnecessary. Buy a Vernet tip and learn how to use it. Buying "Thumbs-up" is equivalent to sticking your $15 into the flame of your "Inferno."
England's Nicholas Einhorn has taken an idea of mine in an interesting direction and has produced a very effective handling for the Haunted Deck, a handling which can be performed with a borrowed deck. A card is freely selected and fairly returned. The deck is tabled or can be set on the floor. The deck cuts itself, the upper half sliding backwards. Suddenly, the top card of the lower half jumps out of the deck and onto the table. It is the selected card. The deck can be handed out for examination, and you can be reset in a matter of seconds.
I'm impressed with Mr. Einhorn's routine. The handling is not difficult, but requires practice in order to be smooth, reliable, and worry free. The animation of the deck is under control at all times, and the jumping of the card is a shocker. And as with any effect that uses thread, lighting is a consideration. At $65 the price is not cheap, but Mr. Einhorn provides you with an ITR Boss thread device, the complete instructions, and the other necessary "thing." If you already have an ITR Boss you might want to contact him to see if a reduction in price is possible.
I like this so much that I'm putting in some concerted practice time. If the effect appeals, "Spooked" is worth your serious consideration. Recommended.
"Celebrity Autographs" is a very commercial and easy method for doing the signed card to wallet effect. Here's what happens: A card is selected, signed, and returned to the deck. The magician offers to show some of his celebrity autographs. Bringing out a leather wallet, the magician removes the clear plastic insert. (This is a series of hinged plastic window compartments, the type which would contain credit cards, etc.) Flipping through the windows, the magician displays several cards which have been signed by famous people. One of the cards is face down. The spectator slides this card from its compartment. It is the signed card.
This is a very clever idea, which has the potential for a lot of humor. The loading of the wallet is dead easy, and requires no sleight-of-hand. And the extraction of the card from the plastic compartment is very convincing. If you're looking for an offbeat, easy, and commercial version of card to wallet, you won't go wrong with this. Recommended.
The Hip-shot Wallet
With a Chinese Menu in His Hand
A little while ago, Anthony Miller released the BMK wallet which I reviewed favorably in this column. The BMK wallet was designed to fit in your inner breast jacket pocket. The Hip-shot wallet is designed to fit in your back trouser pocket. The Hip-shot uses the same loading method as the BMK, which allows you to produce a card from a zippered side compartment. It is also possible to load the wallet so the card is produced from the long zippered compartment which would normally hold your money. When folded in half the wallet is 4.25 inches wide and 5.25 inches tall. It's easy to use (you will of course have to be able to palm a card), is well made, and looks great. If you've been looking for a wallet of this type, be sure to check out the Hip-shot wallet. Recommended.
Anthony also sent along "With a Chinese Menu in His Hand," a mental effect using a simulated menu from a Chinese restaurant. Here's what happens: The magician introduces a prediction which is placed aside. He then brings out a Chinese restaurant menu. A spectator decides on an appetizer, a soup, and an entree. He does this by choosing from "Column A" or "Column B" for each item. The food item selected is written down. Then, three other spectators are given groups of playing cards, and, using these cards, they determine the prices of the three food items. The prices are totaled, and the total is recorded. Finally, the prediction is opened, and it is seen that magician has correctly predicted the food items and the total.
I don't care for this at all. I believe that if the assisting spectator is astute, he will see through the scam which is used in selecting the food items. (And others watching could fathom the method as well.) I also don't like the idea of using the playing cards to force the total. Anthony uses a presentational ploy to introduce the deck of cards, but to me this simply screams "Force!". If you like the idea of the restaurant presentation, there are more convincing routines available in the literature. (For example, check out Phil Goldstein's "Menu Pause" in his book Thabbatical) Not recommended.
I managed to misspell John Lovick's name four times in my May review of "The Reparation." His name is spelled "John," not "Jon." And last month I completely bungled the title of Andrew Wimhurst's excellent lecture notes. They are titled "Down Under Deals," not "Down and Under Deals." My apologies to both these gentlemen.
The Complete Cups and Balls by Michael Ammar. 8.5 x 11, hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 172 pages. $40 postpaid in US and Canada.
The Complete Cups and Balls Videos by Michael Ammar. Two volumes, each $29.95 postpaid in US and Canada. Set of Book and 2 Videos: $95 postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.