While I prefer to perform material I've invented, I have no objection to using a marketed trick or effect if it suits my style and I can give it the "Osterlind Twist" in presentation or method. But there is so much utter junk available, it's often difficult to differentiate between the workable and the useless.
This hit home a few years ago when I stopped into a magic shop on the way back from a show ... Yes, I do that if the mood strikes me! It was July, so the dealer had just returned from the IBM convention. He had a ton of new stuff on his shelves. I spent an hour looking at all those "original effects" and gimcracks and didn't buy a thing. There's plenty of magic "out there," but little of it's of any worth. I formerly believed magicians were merely cheap, but over time I've changed my opinion to this: Perhaps they're innately sensible. After all, why would anyone want to spend even a dime on something they can't use?
I'm not writing this to flatter my friend and publisher Jeff — I've gone on record about this before — but during the almost two decades I've known him, I don't think I've ever gotten anything from him I didn't use. Not one thing. If it's trash, he says so ... in print and very bluntly. I value his judgment whether a trick I'm interested in is for me. So, when I received John Cornelius's Total Recall from Jeff in 1994,1 was pleased: Gimmicked calculators are common, but this one was something special — the best ever. I immediately saw tremendous potential for an impressive close-up routine.
Having a trade show booked for the following week, I worked on several routines to determine how each would play, finally settling on an extension of a routine John had in his instructions. By the close of that convention I had performed the routine countless times, perfecting the twists and nuances necessary for a successful professional presentation. The result was an impossible-seeming routine that fooled everyone, and worked under fire. Shortly after, I wrote it up for Jeff. He distributed it to a limited number of his customers as an exclusive manuscript — part of his "after service."
Now, during the almost-six-year interval, I've changed and strengthened the routine so it plays even better. What I'll describe is tested in hundreds of performances. It never fails to blow spectators away—including well-informed magicians and mentalists!
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