Too Perfect Theory

One of the more perturbing aspects of the world magicians and magical hobbyists is the need for all criticism to be good criticism. No one ever wants to hear that their sleights flashed, their music was poorly edited, their patter was inane, their convention was boring, their book, prop, or video less than valuable, or their latest idea less than original. This glossing over of all negativity is especially true when it comes to biographical information. All magicians are great guys, and no one ever has any warts. I remember when MAGIC was in its infancy, Richard Kaufman wrote a brief reminiscence of Frank Garcia. Because he portrayed Mr. Garcia as a less than perfect human being, Mr. Kaufman received a lot of hate mail. This was ridiculous. No one is perfect. We all have frailties, weaknesses, and flaws, and it is how we overcome these (or perhaps how we fail to surmount these) that make us interesting human beings.

Dai Vernon was one of magic's great characters. In the August issue of MAGIC he was named to the list of 100 who shaped the art in America. He said of his obsession with magic, "If you want to be an artist, you must devote your life to it, and if you want to be truly great, you have to give up everything else. You must dedicate your life to art." My question is this, What is the price of that obsession? To date, nothing written about Vernon really answers that question. Why? Because to do so would place him in a less than perfect light.

Fortunately, Canadian director Daniel Zuckerbrot has created a biography of the Professor in which the warts have not been airbrushed out. Dai Vernon: The Spirit of Magic was originally produced for History Television in Canada. The video includes some extraordinary photographs and film footage, and features reminiscences from Max Maven, Jackie Flosso, Herb Zarrow, John Carney, Steve Freeman, Dr. Persi Diaconis, and Ricky Jay. Most remarkable are the interviews with Vernon's sons, Edward and Derek, who provide previously unknown information about Vernon the man and the father.

Vernon was charismatic, frustrating, insensitive, and brilliant. As Ricky Jay states, he had the ability to cause people to get up and move. Wherever he was located immediately became the center of the world of magic. We will not see another like him. Dai Vernon: The Spirit of Magic is fascinating and exhilarating. It is one of the best magic videos I have ever seen, and I highly recommend it.

(For more information on Dai Vernon: The Spirit of Magic, see Cushing Strout's article in the July, 1999 issue of MAGIC.)

Drawing Room Deceptions By Guy Hollingworth

This column is being written at the end of July. Deadline is a couple of days away. Guy Hollingworth's Drawing Room Deceptions has just arrived, presenting me with a dilemma. Do I try to fit a brief review in an already crowded column, or do I wait a month and give the book more expansive coverage? A brief review will not do justice to the quality of this book, but if I wait, the review will not appear until October, and the book will have been out for two full months. My decision to include a review this month was predicated on that fact that Guy's book has been anxiously anticipated by many, and has been the subject of great speculation on the Internet.

I'm sure most of you know who Guy Hollingworth is. He has appeared on the World's Greatest Magic, he has lectured and performed at magic conventions around the world, he has appeared on the cover of MAGIC, and his trick "The Reformation" has spawned many variations and generated tons of comment. Guy is young, tall, good-looking, intelligent, charming, and possesses enviable technical facility with a deck of cards. It would be easy to hate him, except that he is such a nice guy.

In fact, the first thing you may notice about Drawing Room Deceptions is its lack of hype and self-aggrandizement. Guy has written this book in a style reminiscent of the turn of the century, as if Nevil Maskelyne and David Devant were looking over his shoulder. Don't let me give you wrong impression; Drawing Room Deceptions is not difficult to read, it simply captures the sensibilities of a more refined and genteel time.

So, what about the tricks? Most of the material that Guy has performed and lectured on appears in Drawing Room Deceptions, including routines from The London Collection videotape. Chapter One includes variations on "Waving the Aces," Guy's vertical treatment of "Twisting the Aces." (The version where all four cards change is not included here, but will be included in a separate manuscript which will be released in the near future.) Chapter Two details two very tough routines, "The Penetration of Four Cards through a Jacket," and "An Ambidextrous Interchange." Also explained is the "One Card Routine" that Guy uses as a follow-up to "An Ambidextrous Interchange." Card magic does not get more challenging than this. The feint of chops need not apply.

Chapter Three explains routines that make use of a common stationery item. These routines are all within the ability of the average card magician. Next, Guy pauses for an Interval, during which he explains several excellent and useful sleights, including shifts, palms, switches, false deals, and false shuffles. These techniques are put to use in Chapter Four, which discusses several gambling routines. Chapter Five is my favorite chapter. It explains a method for allowing you to produce a signed card in any impossible location you can conceive. Guy fooled me completely with this at a lecture here in Las Vegas. Chapter Six contains a potpourri of items, including a very offbeat in-the-hands version of "Triumph." This routine was one of the highlights of The London Collection.

Finally, the question you've all been waiting for. Does Guy explain The Reformation? Yes, he does. However, because of the technical nature of the routine and the necessity for attention to details, the description of the routine is long and involved. (It takes 14

pages just to describe how to tear the card into fourths.) You'll be able to learn from Guy's explanation, but it will require concerted effort to do so. Unfortunately, if you don't already own a copy of The Reformation video, this will be the only source of information available to you. When Guy released the video, he pledged that it would be a limited edition and would not be reissued. He is a man of his word, and The Reformation video will not appear on the market again. However, I understand that a new Hollingworth video will appear soon, and "The Reformation" will appear in a performance only segment. So you will at least be able to see what the routine looks like. (You could also track down a copy of Guy's appearance on WGM.)

Quick summary: This is an outstanding book. The material is geared toward the experienced card magician, but there are routines which require little or no skill (for example, be sure to check out the "Voodoo" routine that is cleverly hidden in the Prologue). Drawing Room Deceptions is one of the best books of the year, and I highly recommend it.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic Tricks By Tom Ogden

Tom Ogden is well known as fine magician and a very funny guy. Although this book appears under the banner of The Complete Idiot's Guide series, do not be misled. Tom's book is neither condescending, nor is it written to appeal to idiots. Not only does The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic Tricks contain excellent beginner's tricks, it also discusses subjects which are rarely addressed in a book geared toward the novice.

The book begins with several introductory chapters that cover the origins of magic, the basic effects of magic, some important rules for the fledgling magician, constructing patter, finding your character, and what to do when things go wrong. There is also a wonderful little section listing some of the "right" and "wrong" reasons for taking up magic as a hobby.

The next large section of the book contains the tricks. For the most part, these tricks have appeared in other magic books geared toward the general public. Exposure of these tricks is not going to do your show any harm. There are tricks with cards, money, everyday objects, food, rope, and silks. Also included are mathematical mysteries, simple mental effects, and tricks suitable for the stage (the "Afghan Bands," "Clippo," the "Miser's Dream," and "Dollar Bill in Orange.") Bound into the front and the back of the book are two cardboard sheets that contain gaffed cards that can be punched out. The back design of these cards is the standard Bicycle Brand, but because of the thinness of the cardboard you would not be able to ring in these cards from a normal deck. Tom explains all the tricks very clearly, and the text is accompanied with many sidebar hints, tips, and enrichment information.

The book concludes with a brief history of magic, information on some current practitioners, and sources of further information, including a recommended reading list. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic Tricks is a fine book for the beginner, and I

recommend that you keep it in mind as an excellent choice for someone who is just starting out in magic.

Sports and Pastimes From Steve Burton Magic

This month I want to call your attention to three books that will be of interest to historians and collectors. The first is the Steve Burton Magic reprint of Sports and Pastimes, authored by the anonymous "J.M." and published in London in 1676. The original is one of the rarest conjuring books in the world, with only two copies known to exist. The copy used for this reprint is part of the Huntington Library (San Marino, California) collection of old English books and manuscripts. Edgar Heyl discovered the book in that collection, and included it in his A Contribution to Conjuring Bibliography, English Language, 1580-1850. As Heyl wrote, "Here we have in Sports and Pastimes an important conjuring book - important because over half the conjuring tricks in it had not appeared before, and because the descriptions for the most part can be relied upon as having been written by one who, through not a professional, was yet conversant with the craft."

You'll find descriptions of "The Egg Box" (the forefather of the "Ball and Vase"), "The Melting Box" (an offshoot of the "Cap and Pence"), and the first-ever description of "Trouble Wit." There is also a version of the "Cut and Restored Handkerchief' which provides a means for disposing of the extra piece, a vanishing coin routine similar to a routine found in Hocus Pocus Junior, but which allows the use of a borrowed handkerchief, and a hands-off method for making a knife jump out of a pot of water.

This is the second historical book that Steve Burton has reprinted, and he has done a very nice job. This is a limited edition of 300 copies, so if you are interested I would suggest you contact Mr. Burton right away. (There is also a deluxe leather-bound edition, limited to 30 copies, priced at $200 postpaid.)

European Jewish Magicians 1933-1945 By Hannes Holler

Historians will also want to take note of this compilation of biographies of Jewish magicians who lived and worked in Europe during the years of Nazi persecution. The book contains 35 biographies, including such notables as Theo Bamberg (Okito), Hans Trixer, Dr. Jaks, and Emil Loew. As Mr. Holler says of this volume, "It is obviously not complete. But, if it shows one thing, then it's the importance of investigating, researching, and documenting information before it too becomes extinct." In his note to me, Mr. Holler requests that purchasers send cash, but I think this is a bad idea. I believe that an international money order is a safer way to go. This volume is also a limited edition of 300 copies.

The Artistic and Magical Life of Bob Kline By William King, Jr.

Our final historical volume this month will be of particular interest to those who collect magical apparatus. Before he retired, Bob Kline was a schoolteacher, a part-time pro, and the owner of Kline-Kraft Magic. You may be familiar with one of Mr. Kline's most famous effects, "Copentro," in which four half dollars vanish and visibly appear in a shot glass which has been covered with a tumbler.

The Artistic and Magical Life of Bob Kline traces Mr. Kline's career and the evolutions of several of his marketed effects. For collectors, the final few chapters will be of most interest as they contain photographs of every trick marketed by Kline-Kraft Magic. These are organized by date of release, and a brief description of the effect and the number of units manufactured accompany each picture. Some custom-made effects and illusions are not listed.

I understand that only a few copies of this book remain, so contact Richard Kaufman immediately if you want one.

Memories Are Made of This By Simon Aronson

Interest in Memorized Deck work continues. During my last lecture tour I spent a little time discussing the basics of Memorized Deck. Now you can get an introduction to Memorized Deck from the chief guru himself, Simon Aronson.

Memories Are Made of This is a set of notes that answers such questions as: What is a Memorized Deck; What stack should I memorize; What other tools (that is, sleights) will I need; Is there a substitute for memorization; What are the basic principles of Memorized Deck work; How do I memorize the stack; and How long will the memorization process take?

Finally, Simon includes three excellent tricks that use the Memorized Deck. "Everybody's Lazy" first appeared in Simply Simon, and was one of the highlights of that book. The other two effects, "The Invisible Card" and "Two Beginnings" have not previously appeared in print. Both of these tricks make use of the Open Index principle, which means that they disarrange a minimum number of cards, making them very practical for the strolling performer. This is the type of Memorized Deck magic I love, and I immediately added both of these tricks to my repertoire.

If you already have all of Simon's hardback books you really don't need this set of notes (but you may want to pick them up just for the two new tricks). However, if you were thinking about jumping in the pool, but you'd like to get a feel for the temperature of the water first, Memories Are Made of This would be a fine introduction to the subject. Recommended.

The Wondrous World of Numberplay & Wordplay By Paul Swinford

For many years Paul Swinford was the Parade editor for the Linking Ring, and he published two very interesting books on the Faro Shuffle. Paul Swinford is not as visible on the national magic scene as he once was, but his interest in magic remains strong. Each February he lectures for the Cincinnati IBM Ring, and this year the topic of his lecture was magical stunts and curiosities using numbers and words. The Wondrous World of Numberplay & Wordplay are the notes from that lecture, and they provide a fine introduction to the subject.

The Numberplay section contains information on the 1089 force (including the very funny "Mr. Smith Meets Dr. Matrix"), a previously unpublished Stewart Judah number prediction, effects using a pocket calculator, rapid addition, and effects using cyclic numbers. The Wordplay section includes excision exercises (word lists in which each successive word is formed by eliminating one letter from the previous word), lipograms (a written work that deliberately omits a certain letter of the alphabet), anagrams, and palindromes. Many examples are given, and the palindrome section is quite extensive.

Mr. Swinford writes in an easy to read style, and his enthusiasm for the subject shows through. These are the types of stunts that should be part of the performing magician's impromptu arsenal. The Wondrous World of Numberplay & Wordplay is a fine introduction to a delightful realm of intriguing oddities. I think you will enjoy it. Recommended.

The Silver Surf Written by Joshua Jay

Troy Hooser is a very clever and creative magician, and his ingenious routines have found favor with many of the top close-up workers in the country. Unfortunately, in several instances this appreciation has resulted in the appropriation and publication of Mr. Hooser's material without his name being associated with it. In The Silver Surf, Joshua Jay has written up three of Mr. Hooser's coin routines. Close-up performers will find them to be useful and practical additions to their repertoires.

Two of the routines, "Ex-Troy-dinary" and "Troy This One," involve the vanish and reproduction of three coins. Both use completely different methods, and either would be an excellent lead-in to the currently popular "Fingertip Coins Across" routines. ("Troy This One" originally appeared in Tom Craven's Havenly Close-up column in the Linking Ring, and it won the Best Trick award for 1997.) In "A Charming Chinese Challenge," three Chinese coins penetrate a length of ribbon. This is an extremely visual effect, and is not particularly difficult. If you attended one of the national conventions this summer you may have seen Joshua Jay performing this routine.

I'm delighted that this manuscript has surfaced, and I hope that it is the prelude to a much larger book of Mr. Hooser's magic. He deserves the recognition. If you enjoy coin magic you'll enjoy The Silver Surf. And at $10 this is a real bargain.

The Egg Bag Book By John Novak

The Egg Bag is a classic magic trick. In the 1876 American edition of Modern Magic, Professor Hoffmann referred to the Egg Bag as "a very old fashioned trick." (A version appeared in Clever & Pleasant Inventions in 1584.) Yet, it remains in the repertoires of many contemporary professionals. (For example, Jeff Hobson absolutely kills with his Egg Bag routine.) Why does this trick preserver? Probably for two reasons: the props are simple, and the effect is clear-cut and easy to understand. The egg appears, the egg disappears, the egg comes back. In addition, because of its simplicity, the Egg Bag is the perfect vehicle for allowing a performer's personality to express itself.

In The Egg Bag Book, John Novak has compiled a large amount of useful information about this venerable trick. Mr. Novak discusses the various styles of Egg Bag (giving basic construction patterns), describes the different types of eggs which can be used, offers several different routines, lists notable performers who have used the prop, and gives a useful Bibliography of books and videos which contain Egg Bag information.

I find Mr. Novak's writing style to be somewhat difficult to read at times, but there is no denying that he has assembled a very useful reference book. If you are serious about constructing an Egg Bag routine of your own, you'll definitely want to have The Egg Bag Book in your library.

(Stevens Magic Emporium has also released The Egg Bag video featuring Martin Lewis, Tom Mullica, Billy McComb, Charlie Miller, and Johnny Thompson. This video contains excellent information from top-notch performers and is certainly worth your consideration. The Egg Bag video is $22.50 postpaid, but you can purchase it and The Egg Bag Book together for $35 postpaid.)

Close's Dungeon By Michael Close Reviewed by Mac King

In 1960 Martin Gardner wrote up a trick called "The 3-by-3 Matrix" for his New Mathematical Diversions column in Scientific American. As with many of Mr. Gardner's items, there have been uncounted variations on this trick of moving an object around a layout of cards as directed by a set of previously recorded instructions. The original Scientific American version had the instructions recorded on an index card. The first marketed version was Hal Newton's "Voice From Another World," which used a phonograph record to play back the recorded instructions. In the manuscript for his version of the trick, Michael Close mentions that he first saw this trick in it's "Animal Safari" rendering by Lee Noble and Jerry Lubin, which was released in 1971. The trick has been evolved, and improved upon, by such luminaries as Robert Neale and Max Maven. The latest version is by Michael Close, and is called "Close's Dungeon."

Michael's version does not add significantly to the methodology of this trick, but he does add some welcome comic relief, and there is one small bonus effect that adds a very charming kicker at the conclusion of the trick. The premise of this trick is that there are nine rooms in a dungeon. Nine cards represent these, with line drawings showing the different rooms. An audiocassette is started and the prerecorded voice of the Dungeon Master gives instructions to the spectator who is trying to find the room containing treasure and avoid the rooms that contain the hideously evil monsters. The spectator is given a small figure of a knight and told to place it on any room. The voice on the tape seems to know the spectator's every move through the dungeon.

I've performed this trick for quite a few folks and the reaction is always good. There is not much for the magician to do, just start the tape and follow along. So the skill required for this is rather minimal, although the above mentioned kicker does take a teeny tiny bit of skill. People laugh at the jokes on the tape, and are fooled and surprised by the magic that happens. That seems like just what you'd want when you spend your twenty dollars for a trick. You get everything you need except a tape player. As your guest reviewer I recommend this.

Noah's Mix Up Perpetual Calendar From Mama Mia Magic

Gene Castillon's "Noah's Mix Up" was originally published in Apocalypse, in May 1978. The magician displays two packets of jumbo cards: one red-backed, the other blue-backed. Each packet contains five cards picturing five animals. (The same animals appear in each packet.) Each of two spectators is handed a packet of cards and is asked to think of one of the animals pictured. They then spell the name of the animal, transferring one card from the top to the bottom of the packet for each letter. The magician turns away during this process. The magician then takes the cards and gives them a series of shuffles (reverse faro-shuffles, a maneuver that requires no skill). At the end of these shuffles the top five cards are handed to the first spectator and the bottom five are given to the other spectator. They fan out their cards and discover that each contains four cards of one color and an odd-backed card. The odd-backed cards are the thought of animals.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of this type of effect. The spelling and shuffling process smacks of a mathematically based routine. However, there is one big plus, which is that the entire effect is self-working, so if this type of effect appeals to you, you'll be able to add it to your repertoire with a minimum of effort. The cards provided are colorful, but I found them to be a bit sticky to work with. The application of a little fanning powder may easily correct that situation. Aldo Colombini has also provided two other routines that utilize the cards. The first is a mind reading effecting using balloon modeling, and the other is a version of Larry Becker's "Will the Cards Match."

"Perpetual Calendar" consists of four self-working routines that use a small pocket calendar (which is provided). There is a playing card printed on each day of the year. None of the routines is the typical "Birthday Book" type routine that has become popular of late. Peter Duffle's "Centrifugal Diary" is a prediction effect. Using a deck of cards, a spectator determines a month and day of the year. (This is done by cutting a bunch of cards, shuffling them, sorting out the court cards, and separating the reds and blacks. The spectator counts the number of court cards, and then picks either the red or black cards and counts those. The number of court cards determines the month of the year, the number of the selected-color cards determines the date.) The spectator looks up the determined date in the calendar and the card at that date is noted. A prediction envelope is opened (it has been in sight the entire time). The card in the envelope matches the card on the selected date. The other Duffie trick, "The Diary of Delusion," is also a prediction effect, but it uses an entirely different method to determine the card.

Aldo Colombini offers two routines, "Have a Date," a prediction effect that uses the Bob Hummer CATO principle, and "Birthday Location," in which the card printed on the spectator's birthday turns out to be the only card in the deck with an odd colored back.

While not earth-shaking, the four effects are good. Since little or no skill is required they will be of most interest to the hobbyist. If the effects appeal, I think you'll find them worthwhile.

Phobia

By Kevin Wade

The effect of this little close-up routine is as follows: The magician shows a small pay envelope that is held closed with a paper clip. The clip is removed and the magician partially slides out a small playing card. Only the back of this card is seen. As the card is slid back into the envelope, the magician comments that the card is a prediction of events to come. Next, a small packet of cards is introduced. Each card contains the description of a phobia, and the object associated with that phobia. (For example, there is a card with a spider, representing arachnophobia, and one with a rattlesnake, representing ophidiophobia. As an aside, I should mention that arachnophobia is misspelled on the card.) A spectator selects one of these cards. He then opens the prediction envelope. In a very startling way the magician proves his prediction was correct.

To be fair to Mr. Wade, I have been intentionally vague as to the climax of this trick. The surprise at the end of this trick is very much like the surprise at the end of Jim Pace's "The Web." That is, the spectator is going to get a scary shock. For this reason, I would never perform "Phobia" for anyone but my friends. The handling is very simple (only a basic double lift is required) and if this type of effect appeals, you will certainly get a strong reaction.

(I should also mention that there is another effect that has just been released which also involves a phobia theme. The effects have different climaxes. I do not believe that either inventor had knowledge of the other's creation.)

Omega

By Stephen Tucker

Phil Goldstein's "B'Wave" continues to inspire variations, the most recent being "Omega," from England's Stephen Tucker. The description of the effect is a bit involved. Here it goes: The magician brings out a packet of eight cards. He explains that these are two sets of the four queens (apparently all blue-backed). One set is face up, and this set is placed on the table. The other four (face down) cards are held behind the magician's back as he (apparently) makes a prediction. The cards come out from behind the back and are placed on the table (still face down). Now, the magician picks up the face up packet and places them behind his back. He asks the spectator to think of one of the queens, and then asks which queen is being thought of (for example, the Queen of Clubs). The magician announces that he knew the spectator was going to think of the Queen of Clubs. The face up cards are brought out from behind the back and held in the left hand. The magician spreads the packet of face down cards that are lying on the table. Three of these cards are face down, but the Queen of Clubs is face-up. Now comes a set of successive kickers: The face up cards in the left hand are spread, and one card is seen to be face down. The three face up cards are turned over, they now have red backs. The face down card is turned over, its face is now blank. The Queen of Clubs that is face up on the table is turned over, its back is now red. The other three face down cards are turned over, their faces are now blank. At this point all the cards can be examined.

The hype on "Omega" is that it is "The world's only examinable 'B'Wave'." This is true. The method is clever, but I fear that the method is cleverer than the resultant effect. I tried out this effect on many people on my trip to and from the Little Rock IBM convention, and the consensus was that the effect was confusing. I agree, and there was nothing I could figure out to make things less confusing. You should also know that it is necessary to be able to hold cards in the palm in order to perform "Omega." (Notice that I didn't say that you have to be able to palm cards. You place the cards in the palm behind your back, so no palming skill is required. I apologize to Mr. Tucker for "tipping" part of his method, but potential buyer should know this.) I messed around with several different handlings, but I could not eliminate the "behind the back" procedures, and to my way of thinking, going behind your back twice kills this effect. Compared to the clarity and fairness of "B'Wave," "Omega" seems cluttered, contrived, and confusing.

For your $18.50 you get a single sheet of instructions and eight ungaffed cards. Card guys will probably be intrigued by "Omega" and will attempt (as I did) to work out a cleaner handling. But is that challenge worth $18.50? I don't think so. "Omega" would probably have been better suited for publication in a book or a magazine, rather than being released as an individual trick.

VideoDrome By Andy Nyman Card in Crystal Ball From Mike Rogers Bottoms Up! By Jeff Brown

Venerable indeed is the following plot: The spectator selects a playing card and the magician (that would be you) reveals its identity in an interesting way. I've grouped together the three tricks listed above because they are variations of this plot.

Andy Nyman's "VideoDrome" is the most interesting of the lot. It is designed to be used when you have friends visiting your home. Lying out on your coffee table is a videotape from the London Centre of Paranormal Research (formerly the London Centre of Paranormal Research and Cosmetic Hair Removal). If one of your friends notices the tape, you suggest attempting some easy psychic experiments to see if he is a suitable test subject. Some tests involving numbers and geometric designs are performed. (A nice touch here is that all the tests involve the videotape box cover.) Finally, the spectator selects a playing card. (This is done in such a way that the selection appears quite fair.) The videotape is placed into the VCR and played. The spectator places his hand against the TV screen as playing cards are displayed. When he sees his card he is to think, "Stop." After a few moments the correct card is revealed on the TV screen.

What Andy has come up with is not an earth-shattering new idea, but the video is nicely produced and I like the fact that you do the preliminary tests using the video box. It is possible to repeat the effect, but I would suggest against this. The entire routine is sleight-free. If the effect appeals, I think you'll have a lot of fun with "VideoDrome".

Mike Rogers has come out with a small (about 7/8-inch in diameter) clear acrylic ball to use in the following effect: A spectator picks a card (forced). The magician shows the little ball, calling it a miniature crystal ball. Another spectator looks into the interior of the ball as the magician holds it in front of him. Suddenly, the spectator sees the image of an Ace of Diamonds materialize in the interior of the ball. The Ace of Diamonds is indeed the selected card.

This is a simple and effective trick (one which was a favorite of Dr. Jaks), and Mike provides you with the ball, a small red drawstring bag to carry it in, and a small sheet of instructions. Unfortunately, one small mistake was made in the manufacturing process. When the image of the card was stamped on the outside of the ball, it was not reversed. This means that when you look through the crystal, the image of the Ace of Diamonds is backwards. This is not a fatal flaw, because the image is recognizable, even though the indices are in the wrong corners (and fortunately, the letter 'A' looks the same whether reversed or not). The "Card in Crystal Ball" is worthwhile.

Finally, there is Jeff Brown's "Bottoms Up!" This is a white ceramic mug which has a playing card imprinted on the inside bottom. You offer your guest a cup of coffee, force the correct playing card, and when they empty their cup they see their selected card. Again, if the effect appeals you'll have fun with this.

Clarification Department

My apologies to Dave Landry for omitting his Internet information. I also want to clarify that the multiplication in "Dave's 16 Digit Deception" involves doubling each of eight numbers of the credit card. Dave considers doubling to be adding a number to itself. I consider doubling to be multiplying by two.

It's Not Magic, But.

I have no hard evidence of the following, but I suspect that this conjecture is true: Somewhere deep beneath the Vegas desert is a mutated rock formation which sends out magnetic rays that attract weirdoes, wackos, con men, hustlers, scufflers, freaks, and fools. (It is only a coincidence that the MAGIC offices happen to be located here.) The millions who visit Las Vegas each year (and the million or so who live here) are a fascinating lot, and their stories would make interesting reading. Fortunately, Michael Konik has assembled some of these stories in a book called The Man with the $100,000 Breasts.

The title character is a man named Brian Zembic, better known as "The Wiz" The Wiz is a shuffle-tracking blackjack player, a Backgammon expert, and a master at hustling proposition bets. In 1996 he agreed to the following bet: for $100,000 he would get breast implants and keep them for a year. He did so, kept them, and won the bet. (According to some local sources, he still has them.) In addition to Mr. Zembic, you'll meet "Ron," an expert card counter, Max Rubin (author of Comp City: A Guide to Free Las Vegas Vacations), Archie Karas (who drove into Vegas with $50 and ran it up to $17 million), golf hustler Terrance Leon Jr., David James (who operated a sports-pick hotline, with his four-year old son picking the teams), and world-class poker players Johnny Moss, Phil Hellmuth Jr., and Huck Seed.

If you're looking for some stories to spice up your gambling routines, or a source book of patter possibilities, look no further. The Man with the $100,000 Breasts is very entertaining, and I think you'll enjoy it.

Details

Dai Vernon: The Spirit of Magic directed by Daniel Zuckerbrot. $20. Available from most magic shops.

Drawing Room Deceptions by Guy Hollingworth. 6 x 9 hardcover. 311 pages. $35 postpaid in US and Canada (Foreign postage - surface $5, air $17). From Mike Caveney's Magic Words, 572 Prospect Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103. Phone: 626-4494155. Fax: 626-449-8025.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic Tricks by Tom Ogden. 7.5 x 9, softcover. 374 pages. $18.95. From Alpha Books. ISBN 0-02862707-5. Available from your local bookstore or any online bookstore. Web site: www.mgr.com

Sports and Pastimes by J.M. 5.5 x 7.5, hardcover. 48 pages. $75 postpaid in US, $85 postpaid overseas. From Steve Burton Magic, P.O. Box 238, Cypress, TX 77410-0238 Phone: 281-376-2487

European Jewish Magicians, 1933-1945 by Hannes Höller. 6 x 8, softcover, perfect bound. 81 pages. $22 postpaid. From Hannes Höller, Leopoldstrasse 39, D-40211 Dusseldorf, Germany. Fax: 0211/36 55 62

The Artistic and Magical Life of Bob Kline by William King, Jr. 8x 10 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 96 pages. $55 postpaid. From Richard Kaufman, 4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 106-292, Washington DC 20016. Phone: 202-237-0497

Memories are Made of This by Simon Aronson. 8.5 x 11, softcover, stapled. 29 pages. $15 postpaid in US. Available only from Simon Aronson, 2500 Lakeview, Suite 2901, Chicago, IL 60614

The Wondrous World of Numberplay & Wordplay by Paul Swinford. 8.5 x 11, plastic comb bound. 24 pages. $10 plus $3 p&h. From Paul Swinford, 6773 Le Conte Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45230

The Silver Surf by Joshua Jay. 8.5 x 11, plastic comb bound. 28 pages. $10 plus $2 p&h. From Troy Hooser, 14253 Overton Road, West Salem, OH 44287

The Egg Bag Book by John Novak. 8.5 x 11, softcover, perfect bound. 105 pages. $21 postpaid. From Stevens Magic Emporium, 2520 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67214. Email: [email protected]. Web site: http://allmagic.com/stevensmagic. Fax: 316-686-2442

Close's Dungeon by Michael Close. $20 plus $3 p&h. From Michael Close, 4616 W. Sahara, PMB 199, Las Vegas, NV 89102. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.bigfoot.com/~magicdude.

Noah's Mix Up by Gene Castillon. $15.

Perpetual Calendar by Peter Duffie and Aldo Colombini. $20. US & Canada add 10% for p&h. Overseas air mail add 20%. From Mama Mia Magic, P.O. Box 7117, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359. Fax: 805-499-3561. Web site: www.mamamiamagic.com

Phobia by Kevin Wade. $15 plus $3 p&h. From Kevin Wade, 9982 S. 592 Road, Miami, OK 74354. Phone: 918-542-5815

Omega by Stephen Tucker. $18.50 postpaid. From Jeff Busby Magic Inc., 506 Sixth Street, Wallace, ID 83873-2249. Phone: 208-556-1192. UK and European orders can be made to Stephen Tucker, 1 Castle Haven, Foley Terrace, Great Malvern, Worcs. WR14 4RQ, England. (UK - 10 pounds Sterling postpaid; Europe - 11 pounds Sterling postpaid.) Fax: 01684-566485

VideoDrome by Andy Nyman. $30 US (20 pounds Sterling in U.K.) plus $5 p&h (2.50 pounds Sterling, U.K.) From Andy Nyman, 67 Hammersmith Grove, London, W6 ONE, England. Phone: +44 (0) 181 748 2613. Email: [email protected]

Card in Crystal Ball from Mike Rogers. $10. Available from most magic dealers.

Bottoms Up! by Jeff Brown. $14.95 postpaid. From Jeff Brown, 135 W. Second Street, Juneau, Alaska 9980. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.alaska.net/~jbrown.

The Man with the $100,000 Breasts by Michael Konik. 6x 9, hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 234 pages. $24.95. ISBN 0-929712-72-2. From Huntington Press. Available from your local bookstore or any online bookstore.

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