Have you ever gone through a phase in your life when almost everything seems to be going wrong? You have? Good. At least it's nice to know that I am not the only one who it happens to. At this very moment, as I write, I am just recovering from a bout of sciatica. Do you know what sciatica is? Neither did I, but I do now, and if you ever meet up with someone who is suffering from this ailment, don't do anything but sympathise. It is the most physically painful experience I have ever had in my life.
I have actually had to cancel a number of shows because of it, and this in the middle of a lean period show-wise. I have had more cancelled shows in the last couple of months than I could count. Don't write and tell me how to get the money from the clients. I didn't. I can't. And I won't get it.
Did I mention that last week my car burst into flames? With me in it. Would you believe that as I made a dash for freedom I completely forgot my sciatica? I also forgot my keys which meant that I couldn't get into my apartment to call the fire brigade. I banged on the doors of all my neighbours and nobody was in. It looks as if the car will be a total write-off. I have now lost all my no claims bonuses. Oh, what the hell.
Have there been any bright spots amidst all this gloom? Yes, there was one.
The first annual Martin Breese Close-Up Convention. Held in a centrally located London hotel, it can only be described as a stand out occasion. The whole event was hosted by yours truly, and masterminded by Martin Breese. I have no intention of giving you a blow by blow account of the whole affair for the simple reason I didn't see all of it. I was too busy running around making sure that this or that was ready. But there are one or two things worth mentioning.
First it really was an enjoyable day which started around 10am and finished about 6pm. Many visitors from abroad. Bobby Bernard from England did a mini-lecture on dice-stacking, Braco from Germany discussed the use of threads and closed with a short linking ring routine which included a truly amazing ring off arm penetration.
The star item of the day was a lecture by John Mendoza of the U.S. Here was a man with an enormous amount of knowledge who for perhaps a little more than an hour performed card tricks. You name the close-up card trick and he had it in there somewhere, or a variation of it. Not all of it was completely original, but all of it was good. He finished off his stint with a chop cup routine and a cups and balls routine. He had made, or had someone make for him, the chop cup in brass and its shape was a little different to the norm and it looked very impressive. His cups and balls included one which was also a chop cup with you know what in the base. Two criticisms. He made the almost classic mistake of many close-up lectures. Too many card tricks and the assumption that the audience knew more than they did. He would mention moves like the Buckley Double Undercut without explaining them. John, when you talk to a hundred and fifty magicians you MUST explain the moves. Some of them actually don't know them. (For those who don't know the Buckley Double Undercut is the opposite to the Mohammed Ali single uppercut). Having said that I must say that the John Mendoza really was the star item of the day.
With names like Bob Read, Alan Shaxen, Trevor Lewis our editor Walt Lees and Gordon Bruce on the bill, yours truly, and perhaps eight or nine others, the close-up shows were excellent. The dark horse was an Irishman called Dan O'Donoghue. Catch him if you can. He's good, he's young and he'll get better.
I know I haven't mentioned everyone who performed. I didn't actually see all the performers. If you, dear reader, were one of them and I haven't mentioned your name, write to me and complain. See where it gets you.
Exclusive Card Magic Series — No.2 "Mindboggler". Price £1.75 U.K., £2.00 Europe, 5 dollars U.S.A. All post free. Obtainable from Eaton Magic Graphics, 5 Friar Gate, Derby, England and Martin Breese.
This is the first to be published of a six part series by Roger Crosthwaite. For various reasons, part two preceeded part one. This particular manuscript consists of three twelve by eight printed pages plus frontispiece. There is also a separate sheet with 19 clear photographs. All is printed on glossy paper. The idea of having the pictures on a separate sheet is good. It enables the reader to keep referring to them, without having to turn a page.
The effect described is a straightforward one. A card is chosen by a spectator. Its back suddenly changes colour. Then it changes back to the original colour but the rest of the pack changes.
The method involves the Classic Force, which is covered in detail and a (presumably) original move, the Contrapuntal Switch. Both are described minutely. There is also a switch of the pack, on the lap.
If you are one of that small crowd of elite cardicians who revel in such statements as
. .The step can be as fine as five thousandths of an inch but never more than fifteen thousandths or a sixty-fourth of an inch. . .", then you will no doubt enjoy this handling and the five variations discussed.
Recommended, but not for beginners.
"MORE PROFESSIONAL CARD TRICKS" by Walt Lees. Author's publication, soft covers, 37 pages, 53 photographs, price £4.50.
In the last twelve months or so, Walt Lees has written and published no less than THREE books on the subject of card magic — two of his own material and one featuring the "Commercial Card Magic of Roger Crosthwaite". This present volume brings the Lees total to FOUR. It may well be more by the time you read this! Having set a high standard with the first three books, one begins to wonder just how long the quality can continue. That question is irrelevant as far as this present offering is concerned.
"More Professional Card Tricks" contains four completely routined effects with a regular jteck of playing cards, plus a bonus section on the Lees approach to the Frank SHANK SHUFFLE. As ever, Walt admits that what he offers are not brand new tricks, the credits in the book make that quite clear. But what is on offer is the Lees treatment. And that means an individual approach fully explained in such a manner that anyone with half an inclination can learn to perform the routines. Technique is only part of the battle, as we all know, and Walt ensures that he covers all the small seemingly insignificant details that turn tricks and sleights into magic.
The book opens with a variation of Koran's "Matching the Cards" and Cy Endfield's "Gambler Out-Gambled" in which the performer in attempting to cut four aces, actually gets the four kings and the aces reappear elsewhere. A simple and boring description which does not do justice to the finely honed routine that is actually on offer. There's a multiple shift, thrown in; some excellent advice on what to say when culling a group of cards from the deck; a mini-treatise on the much-abused slip-cut, and much more.
The second item, "Another Departure" springs direct from Alex Elmsley's familiar "Point of Departure" plot, in which a selected card vanishes from between two jokers and turns up reversed in the pack. A fairly standard method is given, which at first glance may seem a bit old hat to some. But again, a glance below the surface shows much more. All cardmen will be very familiar with the moves used in this effect, and in all probability will have their own method. But, to dismiss the Lees offering on that basis, is to overlook much that is of value. The Mario "ATFUS" variation, and the psychology behind the execution of the move is of great value. As is, too, the approach to the Drop Sleight.
Item number three is a reworking of the Hofzinser Card Plot, with more than a passing credit to Larry Jennings. Probably the most difficult effect in the book from a technical standpoint, but since the method of this trick has become more important than the effect in recent years, I'm sure it will please devotees of the premise. If you're looking for a practical approach to the Hofzinser idea, try this.
"Crazy Mixed-Up Poker", the final trick is certainly the easiest technically, but does require some skill in the handling of an assisting spectator. Walt Lees tells you how you can allow a SPECTATOR to shuffle a pack of cards, yet still deal the performer the winning hand.
(Actually, sometimes the spectator gets the winner, but that contingency is well covered).
And, finally, to the SHANK SHUFFLE. A false riffle shuffle that is, like its close relative, the ZARROW SHUFFLE, an out and out fraud. But, as ever, there is a right way to execute the fraud. Walt explains why his method works as effectively as it does.
Expert card handlers will find nothing in this book that they have not come across before. But those who think they are experts, and those who know they're not (which means most of us) will learn much from a study of the contents.
No new tricks, no new sleights. But, a practical method of actually using standard card moves to create strong card magic, and a wealth of advice on how to perform that magic. Add t^ all this the Lees humour and laconic writing style, and you have a good read as well as everything else.
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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.