Monday, December 31, 2012

Vanish Magic Magazine

Vanish Magic Magazine if it some how managed to pass you by is a completely free magic e-magazine. If you wondering how they can to afford to be free, it's exactly how you think with Ads. A whole lot of ads. Reading you may feel if there is as much as there is content. If it saves me five bucks who am I to complain. It's a good sized e-magazine around 80 pages. I won't review each one as it's free just download them all and see for your self.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Mystic Menagerie

The Mystic Menagerie is a quarterly e-magazine for the Bizarre Performer. They have done nothing but consistently improve since issue one. They offer the first issue free, and the other issues are reasonably priced. While the first issues are a little on the short side the later issues are around fifty pages. The contents are top-notch, and come from knowable names in the bizarre community. So far each issue manages to remain relatively ad free.

I don't have every issue but I do plan to do a review of the ones I do have because a good review of each can be hard to find and much needed when trying to decided which issue will best serve your limited funds. So there's that to look forward to in 2013.

Links to individual reviews:
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #1
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #2
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #3
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #4
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #5
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #6
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #7
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #8
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #9
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #10
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #11
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #12

Monday, December 24, 2012

They don't want you to learn

So I found this article in my feed today. Basically the article claims that magic shops don't want you to learn sleight of hand because it makes them less profit. Besides being such a very cynical view point, I think it shows a lack of knowledge of supply and demand and human nature. There is not some retailer Illuminati trying to keep people dependent on gimmicks. The simple fact is that people want instant results, the author of the article self admits that when he started he had no desire to spend hours practicing sleight of hand. There's that old saying that an amateur does 100 tricks for a dozen people and the professional does a dozen tricks for hundreds of people. When your goal is to impress your family and friends with your magic prowess you need a new trick every week that you can master in no time. So wheres the market at for the local shops, it's in the easy to master self working gimmick, so that's what they stock. They stock what they think people want to buy, what there's a demand for.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Free magic DVD from Penguin Magic

So as stated before like most people I have a weakness for things I'm told are free and the free beginner DVD from Penguin Magic was no exception. I may do a review later but there are two things that annoyed me right off the bat about this free "DVD". First is that it's a gigabyte direct download. That's the kind of bull that will mess up a lower end computer and poor connection. It took my computer the better part of an hour and slowed everything down to download it, luckily it made it all the way through with no issues, haveing to restart would mean I would've quit trying to get it. But I feel that if your file is over 250 megabytes it shouldn't be a direct download. That is what torrents are for, that's why every version Linux out there has a torrent option. Maybe they figure people are stupid and that if they let them torrent one thing legally they'll torrent everything else illegally. My second issue is calling it a DVD, this is one big arsed movie file, it lacks the features of a DVD like a menu or easy navigation. It's almost 3 hours long and there's no list of effects mentioned anywhere. If you're looking for a specific effect you just have to to click around the time bar looking for the right bit. It's a right pain and nothing I've seen so far seems all that great.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Have to have a blog

I have this blog as way to chronicle my efforts in the magics, and that's about all it does, though my reviews do see a good bit of traffic. Anyway I never thought of having a blog connected to my professional website (when I do finally get one). But whenever I visit to a magicians personal site, it seems all of them have a blog. With various levels of success in execution. A good few of them feel more like after thoughts than anything. I can't help but wonder if there's some unwritten rule or if some rumor went around before I joined the magic fraternity that says you have to have a blog. While I'm sure that done right a blog can help with the sales, a blog takes commitment. As I've seen with my own blog when I stop posting for long periods my view count goes right down the drain, and generally speaking most of the traffic happens in spike on the day where a post goes live. For the most part I think that the info in most magicians blogs would better serve them in other areas and they should ditch the blog otherwise.

Edit: A few days after typing this post a I found a link to this article in my Facebook feed. I have not read the whole thing but the basis of it is that if you want your site to appear in Google searches in 2013 a well executed blog will be essential.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Simple Christmas Effect.

OK real simple using basic magic skills, write a prediction on the back of an ornament hang it on the tree. Force a card on someone, then magicians choice the ornament onto another spectator. It doesn't have be the whole tree, be all "Hmm what to do? Oh I know..." walk to the tree snatch off two ornaments and let some one else pick two more and then have another person eliminate ornaments until he has the prediction. Depending on your skills there are ways to ramp it up or down.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Find ways to practice

I live in the middle of nowhere. I tell people I live at 40th and Plum, 40 miles from anywhere and plum out it in the middle of the boonies. It's a 20-30 minute car ride to town and another 10-15 to anything like a mall. With the lack of a job and the cost of gas this makes performing for people a bit of a pain to accomplish. And the friends and family are a little tire of my magic crap. So when I wanted to learn to read the tarot I had to figure out a way to do readings without people. What I came up with a blog doing reading for the various Zodiac signs. And it worked, I now know the cards decently well and how to relate them and present them in a way for other people to make sense of them. I also learned that I don't really know jack about the zodiac signs that aren't my own. I still need to get out and do effects for people but keeping an eye out for a ways to build skills will never hurt.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Swami By P. Craig Browning

A free book on the use of the Swami, how could I say no. Let me start by saying that I don't like Mr. Browning at all. Seriously everything that I have say that's nice about this work wounds my soul. I've never found anything to disagree with him about the actual working of effects but just about any other matter we disagree on. You won't find me buying any of his works but I have a hard time saying no to something that's free. I've not read all his free works but I have read his free books on bizarre and seance work. This book on the swami is so much better than those two in execution. And it has actual effects in it which I don't recall those other two having. Some of the effects are from other performers other than Mr. Browning, a great boon to the tome. The effects all seem like they are good, can't say till I actually try them. And there is a going over of Acidus Novus, (this is the second place I've seen it taught and I wonder at the >$100 price tag of it if so many places have permission to teach for far less money) My biggest complaint so far is that the gimmick that he teaches how to construct unless you already own the tools would cost you more than just buying several pre-mades. And according to him the gimmick will last forever if taken care of so it's not like you'll have a lot of uses for the tool after you make your gimmick. My second biggest complaint is the same as for his other works in that there are some poorly edited points.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Solitary Seance by Raymond Buckland

Unlike the other books I've reviewed this one is not for magicians it's for the general public. It is a book aimed at people who want to contact the spirits alone at home. I would like to do a seance show and host a legitimate seance and following the advice to read everything one can on the subject both for the performer and for the layman I decided to get this book. When I asked the clerk in the store about this book he told me he had not read but when comes to spirit communication and people saying "he wrote the book on it" that Raymond Buckland is who they are talking about. He may have wrote the book but all I got was the introduction. Now I've not read any of his other works but at times this book feels padded, especially when he says thing like 'A is correct but that's not to say that B lacks merit'. One example of padding is the section titled "Religion or Practice" after he answer the question, he spends three pages going over the history of the spiritualism based religion, including the fascinating but pointless tidbit about how one building was built by repeatedly lifting the whole structure and building a new bottom floor. While interesting the information provides no real value, at best it is vague historical context and has a tenuous justification for being under that heading.

The book itself is rather on the small side the text portions are easily obscured by my hand, and it may just be the cynic in me but I feel the reason for the diminutive size is two fold first if it were a larger book most of the entries would shrink from several pages to barely one to one and a half and the book would only be a third of it's thickness and thickness matters more to the subconscious of the shopper. In the section on spirit boards there is a not so subtle suggestion to purchase his own board over the Ouija board (a quick google reveals that his board is less than aesthetically pleasing). He could have at least split up the derision of the Ouija and the suggestion for his own. One thing I don't care for is the huge amount of divination systems touched on in the book, the author does explains his justifications of how they can be considered a form of spirit communication, but I kind of feel that is out of place. Although I suppose the aim for a solitary ability may have necessitated the need. I did a lot of skipping when it came to the the actual how and meaning of things the few time I checked in I found nothing there I wasn't already familiar with. Like I said it was touched on, all the info that was given is what could be best described as the bare minimum information needed to attempt the divination.

I'm having trouble feeling like this book earned my $15 I don't really know anything leaving that I didn't going in beyond historical factoids. My main issue lies with the shortness of the chapters, simply because for every subject in the book to which only a few scant pages are dedicated there are whole books to be found. I'm rather sure I've wrote longer Skype messages on some of the subjects. It's more an introduction to various spiritualistic and divinatory techniques than a book on how to perform a seance alone. You could buy it, find the ones you prefer, and then get the longer tomes on the subjects. I feel I would have been better served had he narrowed it to a few techniques and gone in depth on them than the brief runs downs provided.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Making Magic look Bad.

There are a lot of magicians that think its the bad magicians that make magic look bad. They blame the Tyro that has not perfected his routine before taking to the the street. The say things like most people only every see a live magician once in their life. Of course the same people that say that are also the same ones that say the reason no one wants to see them perform is that their target spectator has previously seen someone that was bad at magic which seems unlikely if the most people only ever see magic live once rule is true.

If you want to blame someone for making magic look bad how about network TV, the week that I placed this post in draft there were two TV shows that poked fun at those with a magic hobby. Not even snide little jabs these were full blown if you have a magic hobby you are a dork episodes. But I've rarely (read never) seen a post on a forum about how the portrayal of those with this hobby on television are bad for our image. It's all the clumsy amateurs fault.

The image of magicians is where it is today not from the bumbling of the amateur but from the popularity of the professional. I recently saw footage of Harry Blackstone Sr performing  he was doing effects like they were bullet in a machine gun pow, pow, pow, pow. And the bouquet from nowhere may be mystical the first time but it's just a silly trick when you do over ten times in rapid succession. And think of how many magicians perform like that trick after trick after trick. Even the stage magician with the super illusions it's just one impossible thing after another and at this point there's very little mystery to a lot of it. It's visually appealing but it's not like the audience doesn't have a idea where the half naked lady was hiding. It's what Robert Neal would call distractive magic, it does little more than offer a distraction from the everyday humdrum. I'm not trying to put down that sort of entertainment, people enjoy it they wouldn't keep buying tickets. I'm just saying it doesn't really help the image of magic.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Magic Mirror by Robert Neal and David Parr

One man's thoughts another man's words, an unusual premise for a book but it seems to work well. The book started as a collection of essays by Robert Neal, which were re-written by David Parr. Now I've never had any contact with Mr Neal, but David Parr is basically the head Mugwump at my favorite forum and thanks to the small but dedicated user base I have has some interaction with him. I've found him to be both helpful and insightful. This book is split into two parts, the first part is magical theory and the second part is effects. Not a lot of effects in this book maybe nine total but that's not this point of this book. The effects are darn good effects a fair few will make their way into my repertoire. But really if you are just hunting for good effects you may want to spend your money elsewhere, where this book shines is the theory portion. If you've ever wanted your magic to feel like something other than silly tricks, this book is for you. It approaches magic from a more anthropological view point. It asks and answers the question of why man created magic and why they need magic. The book also offers a new way to classify magic one I find to practical and thought provoking.

Bottom line is this book offers a new way of looking at the performance of magic. Which is something I think all performers need in general. Seriously if hope to grow at all you need to take a look at your magic from a different perspective at every opportunity.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book of Forgotten Secrets by Stephen Minch

The webpage said "This IS your father's bizarre magick, full of alien gods, scuttering monsters, pentagrams and flash paper!" how could you not want a copy. In the seventies Stephen Minch released a book of seven H.P. Lovecraft inspired routines called 'Lovecraftian Ceremonies' it is now out of print and hard to get and I so very much wanted a copy. Lucky for me in 2009 an updated and expanded version of the book was released in a limited run under the title of "Book of Forgotten Secrets" each copy is signed and numbered. Mine is number 400 out of 500. Now I'm not going to go into the effects this a book a secrets you want the secrets you gotta get the book. First thing I like about this book is the look of it. It looks like a book of secrets should. It even has one of those built in ribbon bookmarks. The only way it good be better is if it was aged and written in some indecipherable script. It starts by stressing the importance of performance in order for the success of the effects. Even with the actual effect more information is placed on the script than on the methodology and stage direction. When it comes to methodologies don't expect any mind blowing new methods. Not only is it you fathers bizarre magic it's also his methods. So there really nothing here for what could be called move monkey's, the people that buy up everything they can in order to learn all possible methods. Where I think this book is the most use is in building an understanding of the proper way to construct a bizarre routine. There are somethings that took a second read through for me to get, like the advice to not do these routines for Lovecraft aficionados. I kind of feel that if you're into bizarre it won't hurt to have in your collection. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My confession

I don't like close up magic. Don't get me wrong, I like the effects, I like doing the effects. I just don't like performing close up. There's just some folks I'd rather not get close up to. In fact its most people. When I go to a party I do my best to perform for any interested party and sometimes I'll find my self wrapping up quickly so I can get away from the person. I have a friend who wants to start his own event planning company and to me I see it as an opportunity in the making so I help out and attend his events in case he gets his act together and actually gets it too work out that'll be a valuable resource. Any way I'm at his event and he's having a raffle so I go to purchase a ticket but he's not really worked out how to do it yet, so I write 1 raffle ticket on one of my business cards and give it to him so he has a reminder that I bought one. After he got the raffle together and no longer need my business card it some how found it's way into the hand of a large redneck like fellow who came up to me to ask me to define some words. My business card at the time read;
"Magnus Asbjorn
Worker of Wonders
Maker of Miracles
Purveyor of Bizarre Arcanum"
Now before you give me crap about them I'd like to point out that I printed them myself for the purpose of using in the Stigmata effect. I explain that Thaumaturgist means wizard. And then he asked what Bizarre Arcanum meant and I explained that it meant bizarre secrets. To which he replied and I quote "What? Like I like to suck on toes or have a dildo in my back pocket?" If I weren't already done talking to this drunkard I definitely did not want to talk to him more. I did the hot rod effect and he sent him on about his day. Recently I had a run in with the worst type of spectator, the troublemaker, the entire effect she did nothing but try and mess me up. She failed and everyone but me and her had a good time. My point that until just after she choose a card there were no warning signs that I was about to have trouble.

Now at this point in my magic learning I can still choose who I want to perform for but if I were to go pro with the close up magic, I can't really say I don't want to perform for someone. Now I can turn down clients as I see fit but as long as I'm on the clock I have to entertain the guests of whomever hired me. The last thing I want is for a guest to complain that I ignored him or was rude to him. No matter how good a performer I am the are others out there in the same pay grade that are just as if not more willing to take the job and please everyone.

When I got into magic I was and still am enamored with the idea of parlor magic, but I had no idea how to get into that, my plan was to start with close-up learn how magic works, the basic principles and sleights  pick up some good effects, and then work my way towards my goal. Beyond learning closeup for that plan I feel a magician should be able to magic at any time, not just on stage. Not saying he has to just cause he's asked to just that he should be able to. It seems like it would make you look a little silly if you could do all that stuff on stage and then after if someone see you in the bar be all I can't. And obviously you should have a dynamite close up effect to show bookers, and convince them to hire your act, unless your act packs small enough or you have somewhere to show it off.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I was recently informed that David Blaine's minimalistic patter style comes from his belief that  "if someone was to do magic, like really do magic, I don't think they'd have a big presentation. They would just do it. Like I would just pick up a rock and crush it into sand. No fancy presentation" I don't actually care too much for Blaine's performances especially since he moved to a more stunt focused character but it got me thinking about what real magic would look like.

I came to the conclusion that the idea that if one could do magic they would just do it doesn't really fit into what I'm gonna call the cultural subconscious. I'm not really an expert but it seems to me for the most part going back in time both in real life and stories magic men, wizards, witches, shamans, witch doctors, etc required items and rituals and what have you. The beings who could just change reality with little more than a thought generally were gods and demons and other supernatural beasts, and in some mythologies the gods still needed items and all that to make the changes. But when a supernatural being does that, it's not magic, it's no longer the impossible its just that being doing its thing.

What I see as support of the idea of an underlying cultural understanding of magic is that anytime a writer deviates from this traditional thinking of how magic works they have devote time in story to exposition on the way magic works. Like in Harry Potter no explanation is given for how magic works you just read them doing magic. But for the Sword of Truth series (the only deviation I could think of at the moment) theres a page or two where one character sets another down and explains how magic works just before that knowledge becomes relevant to the story and that pretty much happens every time a new understanding is needed by the reader.

While I don't see myself joining the minimal patter bandwagon, I suppose if one explained in a reasonable fashion their Djinn like nature they could perform feats with no build. Although I fail to see a way to make it entertaining. Beside it makes the whole thing a little questionable, if you could just change reality why do you need me to pay you to perform card tricks. What I'm trying to say is that whether or not they know it people expects a little something to make magic, they expects odd words and gestures cause growing up that is what caused magic in the tales they were told. And because of this you can't do something magical with no build and expect it to be anything other than a surprise, magic needs a build up or its just tricks (which I'm not against just tricks cause those are still fun just not really all that magical).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Skeptics be crazy

So I don't know how many of you subscribe to the Magic Roadshow newsletter but this latest issue had a link to an episode of the Amazing Kreskin a TV show from the 70's and then it had a link to opinion of Kreskin and then an opinion of the opinion. If you don't read the opinion at the link you won't know what I'm talking about. The article is almost two decades old but what I found interesting about it was the fascinating look it gave me into the mind of a skeptic. I have always know that skeptics existed but I had always thought that what they were fighting was the Miss Cleo's of the world. For those that don't know Miss Cleo was a fake Jamaican that sold psychic readings over the phone with some pay-per-call service back in the late 90's. I thought they were fighting the psychics that sold their services as real and not the entertainers. I've never seen anything that painted Kreskin as anything other than an entertainer but this article's tone really communicates a hatred of Kreskin. I mean it was the plan of this skeptic group to get one of their people in to surprise and harass Kreskin, sad part is today the producers would probably hurry the skeptic to a front row seat just because it would be good for ratings. I mean that takes a lot of animosity. There are a lot of people I don't like but the idea of taking time out of my day to harass them especially if I didn't know them personally seems a bit much. Beyond the authors own distaste towards Kreskin it seems that he is rather surprised that the interviewer did not share his desire to verbally attack an old man on stage (Kreskin would have been around 60 when the article was written), or that a publishing company would publish Kreskin's book.

The way I see it as a performer it's understood that what I do is an act for peoples entertainment, I may try to blur the lines of reality in performance but only in order to be entertaining so that you will feel that whatever it cost to see me was worth it, so that people will come see me so I can support myself doing what I love to do. So to any would be skeptics who want to give me a hard time remember the skills I use to entertain would make me a lot more more if used to swindle.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Best Color Monte Ever.

The original Color Monte (or at least the one I know as the original) using a red and blue diamond is a bit of a silly trick. And I always wondered if it was just colored squares why have a standard card back. There are a lot of versions of color montes out there. Various colors, pictures, and themes. But for the most part they are very similar, they feel similar. This one feels different. It has three actors and makes use of the audience. The audience participation is funny without making anyone the butt of a joke. Even if the story is similar, I feel a lot of thinking went into this effect. Then think of the effort of working in two other actors. Thats a lot of work in jazzing up the color monte and to me that shows that the magician really cares about giving his audience something to see.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Scoundrels Touch from The School for Scoundrels

Two DVDs for the price of one, not really as it costs more than $50 (which I guess in term of magic DVDs there are some out there that cost $50 or more) but its worth every penny if you seriously work the shells. By seriously work the shells I mean that you love the effect not that you are an actual conman. The Scoundrels Touch has so much content it needs two disks. And it really is two DVDs in one because Bob Sheets' DVD 'Absolutely Nuts' is part of disk one. The quality of the video is excellent better than it needs to be in the non teaching sections but I think the quality of School for Scoundrels products is what makes it worth their sometimes high dollar prices.

The menu is very similar to the one from the previous School for Scoundrels Three shell game DVD. Clicking play all takes us into an introduction from Whit Haydn, Bob Sheets, and Chef Anton. One can not help but think that Bob must feel a little under-dressed between Whit and Chef. Next up is Whit introducing us to the system presented in this volume, and he starts with a history lesson. Like a lot of talk of the shells this one starts with Soapy Smith. Soapy's method gave Whit an idea that he couldn't get to work which he shared with Bob, who worked on it for a year and then came back to fry minds with it. Next up is Bob explaining how the system works. After a quick explanation we cut to Bob Sheets performing at the Magic Castle. Like the video from the first volume he is using his variation on the Dr Beaumont patter, his version has extra emphasis on poo in order to tie his patter to scarab shells. Maybe he is too ingrained with that patter because he's using regular looking walnut style shells but still brought out a scarab shell for his patter and that is all that shell is there for, it plays no other part in the routine. This is followed by another performance at wherever the video was shot, he's mostly performing for the camera with the help of an off screen spectator. Now we finally get to learn how to do this routine. After that we get some more information on the system and an updated Sheet's acquitment. I don't know why it needed the update to its handling but as I have not done the move anywhere as near as often as Bob Sheets has I have to assume it's a needed improvement. What I like about this routine is that it works with larger shells. Finding a glass the right size for a shot glass finally was a pain with with my Black Fox Master Shells. After explaining the routine the go into more details on some of the moves. Then they go over ways to ring a pea in and out including the use of the Sheets' Stack. One of the things I like about this series  of DVDs is that even when they are explaining one of the products School for Scoundrels sells I never feel as if they're trying to sell me the product. It's more if you have or want said product this is how it works and never you should get this product. After that is a nice alternative ending that use two shells. Next we cut to Bob Sheet's Absolutely Nuts DVD, not having the original DVD I can't say how it was modified to fit on this DVD. For the most part with the exception of the system that makes up The Scoundrels Touch and a pea in the hand move most of the info in this section is the same as what you would find on volume one of the series. After Absolutely nuts section we have Whit giving us a refresher on the V-grip, the Haydn Turnover, and the Maneuvers  I consider the Hayden turn over essential because no matter how many times you tell them it's off limits someone will make a grab for your equipment, if I see someone go for the shell with the pea I can do the turnover before he can grab it. Once the refresher is over we have Whit teach the kick steal. The drawback to the kick steal is it need a heavier shell to function. Next is what may be my favorite part of disk one "Feints, Hooks, Come Ons, and Ruses" apparently this section is just a teaser for volume three. I CAN'T WAIT. The moves taught here are designed to help the spectator think he has one up on the operator so they will want to play. The are more valuable to people that use the shells more as an actual con than for the magician doing a routine. The final bit of video is Whit going over the various shells available at the Scoundrels store. I must be done talking about disk one, wait, nope, the disk also has files to be opened on a computer. With the exception of the photos these seem to be mostly the same files from volume one.

The menu is no different here than on the other DVD. This video start with Chef Anton doing is routine. I really enjoy this routine and I will be learning it. So it good that next part is Chef teaching this routine. Followed by Chef with an alternate ending. Next is Whit showing an alternative ending for if you have magnetic shells. Then Chef shows how to do the same with a magnetic cigar instead of magnetic shells. Whit up next with a run down of the Sheets Stack, the Sharper Pens, and the Pea Can. After that we find that Chef is a fan of outs, that he loves doing them and he teaches some of the ones he enjoys. Whit then introduces us to psychological outs which vary from the regular ones in that you don't manipulate the shells. These are bits of business that make it OK that the spectator got the right shell and Whit goes into how you can use them to get a read on what kind of player you have on your hands. Then we have what I think could be the most useful section two videos of Whit performing the same routine to different groups at the magic castle. In one it goes perfect and in the other the spectators are trouble. Besides being able to contrast the two performances it help to see how a master like Whit handles the situation. I also find it interesting to see how Whit uses the whole table not just the area in front of him. Next we learn the Escobar move which Whit says is a come on in that it let's you do the shells with one arm behind your back. A surprise character follows, a Giuseppe that teaches us about the modern outfit. It's a little odd watching a man dressed like he belongs on a river boat talking about about sanding bottle caps. Beyond that the information seems solid and is straightforwardly presented. The most useful of the information he presents for someone that is running more of legitimate game than a routine is that of Betting Cycles. Giuseppe is followed by Whit showing how to use a handheld board. After Whit is video of a real operator and his crew working a festival. Next is a lecture with Whit and Chef called "Thinking like a Scoundrel" They go over the difference between a real operator and someone doing an exhibition. They talk about what we can learn as performers from a real operator. The files on the DVD worth mentioning are the pictures of legitimate mobs in action and a transcript of Gamblin' Sams forum posts.

So what do you get for your money well you get two routines from Bob Sheets and one from Chef Anton, a solid system to always win at the shells, new moves and bits of business, a lot of information about the legitimate operations of the con, and good bit of stuff that takes some actual time spent thinking and considering. I know that The School for Scoundrels says that you don't need the first video to benefit from this one but there a good bit of info here that needs the operator to have a thorough understanding of the basics.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kings Rising Levitation from Ellusionist.

I rarely say not to get something but unless you're getting this DVD as part of a package deal or you are a levitation junky don't bother with this DVD. The problem with this levitation is that it requires certain footwear and a jacket. Other than that its just as angle prohibitive as the Balducci levitation. All you really gain is that spectators see both sets of toes come up off the ground instead of both heels. If anything it's Balducci with different angles that requires special props and is harder to get into.

The teaching is good and solid and the video is good quality. You also gain access to a dead forum. Which is annoying cause its a selling point on the web page but it not worth the time to go to.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The cost to do magic.

"I'd really like to get _____ but the cost is so high" Oh I hates that phrase it's poor people thinking at best. The only time I consider cost is in relation to the quality of the item. If I drop $250 on close up pad I expect to get a high quality close up pad that will last through several years of use. If I spend $450 on a set of shells for the three shell game I expect to receive an expertly cast set of pure silver shells. At no point do I think that I won't buy those items at those prices because sitting here imagining doing the shells with silver shells using a white "pearl" on the Victorian close up pad is like mental porn.

When I was significantly younger I remember hearing a quote that stuck with me, "A poor person thinks 'I can't afford that', a rich person thinks 'How can I afford that?' " It's not a question of how much the item costs it's a question of how do you align your finances in a way in which you can afford it, which may take time and patience but if you really want something it's possible. Now I do understand buyers remorse where you get something and it turns out to be crap. At lest in the magic world you have the benefit of reviews out there so do your research to avoid that. But that's way different than avoiding something simply due to the price. Price alone should never be the deciding factor.

This complaining mostly happens with cards. "I like the look of  ____ deck but at $___ it's a bit much." Then go use standard bikes if cost is your deciding factor. The idea that a deck of card should be longer lasting just because it cost more is also annoying.

Lets say there are three levels of magician; hobbyist, amateur, and professional. The hobbyist enjoys magic, it's a fun way to spend time and waste money. Like a regular person and sports, an average sports fan may watch the game and chat with folks about it, he may own some memorabilia like a hat or tee-shirt and if invited he may attend a game but he'd never go to one by himself. The amateur loves magic, loves it, is devoted to it, and he may never be paid to do it, but still has a room devoted to it. In terms of sports fans this is the guy with all the swag half naked painted team colors that buys tickets to as many games as he can. And lastly the professional is anyone that makes money with magic. This is the guy that buy and sale sports memorabilia, that turned his love of the game into a career about it.

Now when it comes to the hobbyist, his purchases should be things he wants that help him enjoy his hobby. He really lacks the drive or need for the big ticket items. But if it meets those two criteria (wants it/makes the hobby enjoyable) he has no reason to balk at the cost. Now the amateur is in it for the love of it, he needs it all and so lacks a reason to balk. Lastly and with the least reason to balk is the pro. Because with pro his magic items cost him less because if he's doing it right his customers pay for his items. Lets say I charge $80 for an hour of strolling magic. To me it breaks down like this: $20 for wear and tear on my gear and props, and consumables (flashpaper, cards, etc), $15 travel, and that leaves $45 for my time. In addition some of those props are bound to be tax deductible. When I sold steak knives any thing I bough to cut up in my demonstration was tax deductible. So at the very least I bet you can deduct cards.

What inspired this rant, well tired of hearing that load of bollocks first quoted, a lack of sleep probably too, but what pushed me enough to write a post about it was the forum posts for the Victorian close up pad that I read while looking for color pictures of it. The idea that a <$50 roll up pad was just as good as the more expensive pad was a bit annoying. First from an actual standpoint of the item themselves. While they may have changed the Victorian pad currently for sale is two sided and stiff. Besides the fact that it has two usable sides which you would only get from the other if you glued two pads together the fact that its stiff mean that you don't need a table to use it, you can lay it on your lap or find a pair of willing hands. This next point applies to the pros more but is still valuable across the board. As a magician what you are selling is not the magic anyone can do magic, what you are selling is yourself. Your image is what sells you to the customer and it sells the magic to the spectator. Anything you can do to help that is a good investment. Is a card clip and fancy pad necessary to do magic, no, but they do help you look like a professional. Obviously you want ones that fit with your character but other than that there's no good reason to not have them. I mean you don't really need all that stuff to be a magician so if you're going to get them why cheap out. I can't think of any effect I do that absolutely need a close up pad, I had some bad props that wouldn't function properly without one (needs close-up pad is some info that should have been on the package), but I got better props. I have no need for a close up pad from a 'make my effects work' stand point but, it helps me look like a pro and provide my close up work a stage to perform on.

Now I don't want you to think that I'm saying to go out and buy the most expensive version of everything. I mean I like nice things, I wear suits all the time, it's not beyond expectation that I would have a close up pad that costs a pretty penny. You need to get what suits you best.What I'm saying is if you want it the cost should not be your sole reason to not get it. And what ever you do don't listen to the guy that said to glue some fabric to four mouse pads and call it a close up pad, unless your performance character is a hobo.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to do street magic DVD from Ellusionist.

I think one of the most important thing to remember about this video is that it is around a decade old. Its one of the first videos Ellusionist back when it was a broke start up. Its lacks the quality that most Ellusionist's later works have. I received my copy second hand when someone I knew died. So there were some wear and tear already present so I can't really comment on the physical quality of the DVD. Also I didn't know the guys full name and so I could prove it to be a legitimate copy for access to the private forum.
It starts of with good advice delivered by a bunch of silly cutting between Brad Christian and some woman. Then another cut to another woman introduces the first effect. I quickly became tired of the clips of women that were cut to between each effect. They added nothing other than eye candy to the video. They were not professional actresses either. None of the effects are new effect or that hard. And credit for the creators is done is this weird subtitle way. But this is a good DVD for the absolute beginner. Not only does it have a lot of effects it's also contains a wide range by that I mean its not all cards and coin effect. It's not really any more expensive than most beginner magic kits. The bonus being that unlike most magic kits this DVD is not aim at the children market so the effects you learn you can show to other adults. If you think you like to try magic get this DVD and if you find nothing on it you enjoy magic may not be for you.

This is the classic ashes on arm, in the performance part Brad's patter is a little silly but works with his I don't really know what will happen let's have some fun with this experiment character. For some reason he has the reveal set up on both arms and reveals it on both. I'm not a fan of the effect simply because I don't want to rub powdery things on my skin. In addition to telling you how to set up for the reveal Brad also teaches the criss-cross force.

This is the classic salt shaker through table effect. Like the last effect it well taught and this is one I've been known to do. They really spend more time than they need to teach the effect, but that's not wasted time they go over some many tips and what have you to make sure you can perform this effect and perform it well.

Sick aces:
Another classic, This is the spectator finds the aces trick from the royal road. Unlike the other effects were Brad teaches to the camera with this one he teaches the the effect to the two spectators he just showed the effect to. With this effect he teaches the over hand shuffle control.

Trace Unseen:
This is a card transportation of card from the deck to elsewhere. It uses an easy to craft gimmick and the ability to force said gimmick.

I guess one would call this a penetration effect. You magically remove a business card from a string. Simple enough effect nothing complicated about it.

Trick Switch:
This effect is one I think of as the glimpse effect. I learned off of scam school a while ago and I feel scam school has the better presentation and better teaching.

Voodoo zone:
This is card warp by Roy Walton according to subtitle credits.

Go inside sugar:
This is a signed coin inside of sugar packet routine.

George's old trick:
Down's Palm coin concealment and production. A rub vanish is also taught.

Chance Zero:
Out of this World by Paul Curry

Self Printing Business card by Michael Ammar. This is a good one, I use it.

In the hands off by Peter Samelson. Its nice but effect wise is basically the same as Merger just with a ring instead of a business card.

That is all that in the official tricks part of the DVD. Next is "Bonus Material" it starts with a section of flourishes. The lead in is way longer than it needs to be. First a coin roll, next is a four coin star, followed by a ribbon spread, after that is Charlier cut, and finally a card fan. The flourishes are followed by a Balducci levitation. Next up is switch that the title says is a Vegas Card Cheat but the subtitle says it a Downs change. Then we have a floating dollar bill and instead of teaching how to make IT it says get it at a local magic shop. This is followed up by two color changes and a vanish.

Like I said a good DVD for the adult looking to break into magic but not much else.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Magician's Thinking

Magician's thinking is a term I heard awhile ago and it refers to when a magician can longer think like a spectator. And it's bad because it always leads the magician to treating spectators like idiots. Usually it comes up in relation to non-rider back cards as in this rant, For those that don't want to read that rant it boils down to magicians with magicians thinking forget that there were other decks of besides Rider backed Bikes available to them before they took up magic. It's not too bad a problem in that situation beyond that it means the performer is avoiding some questions about his performance character. It's unlikely that in that situation that spectator will know that the performer is using bikes because they think the spectator is too ignorant to know other decks exist.

But recently I read a blog post on the Merchant of Magic blog, that told people to not use the word Sharpie because it was a magician's word and using would confuse a spectator. As I pointed out on that blog, Sharpie is a brand name of a widely available permanent marker. I'd go so far as to say that it is America's favorite brand of permanent marker. At least here we've reached the point where we call all permanent markers Sharpies. Much like all adhesive bandages are Band-Aids, or all whipped cream is Cool Whip. I know cause I'm that kill joy that will point out when it not the brand name brand and someone asks for it. Beyond the idea that the word Sharpie is some sort of magic jargon, saying not to use a word because a spectator may be unfamiliar with it implies you consider them too ignorant to know what you're saying from the context. Let's say we have situation where a spectator really has had no previous experience with the word Sharpie and you ask them to sign the card with a Sharpie. They know they need some form of pen to sign with and chances are the magician is holding out a Sharpie, it doesn't take a great mental leap to figure out what they need to do and that this marker being held out must be a "Sharpie".

It's like the golden rule thingie, treat others the way you want to be treated if you wouldn't want someone treating you like you were completely ignorant then don't do it to others. At the very least people tend to act how you expect them to act. If you expect them to be intelligent you may just find them rising to the occasion.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Now this going to be a bit of a rant, and before I get into I just want to say that I understand that the producers of magic are in a tough place, they need to show you enough to make you want the product but not so much that you can steal the it by cleverness and paying attention. How many times have you read on a  forum a post where some newbie is bragging that he learned a move by watching the demo video over and over. I understand the position they find themselves in but I still require enough information to make an informed decision. I don't mind a hefty price tag but I do mind getting screwed by not getting what I think I'm paying for.

So where does this rant start well it starts here well not there actually at review for that product. Magic at the Bar by Chris Randall, eight effects for the bar performer. Of these eight I was interested in three of them Desert Rose, The Exchange, and Martini. With Martini having most of my interest, from the description "Chris' signature opener produce a martini piece by piece" and the reviewer described it "My favorite effect is a routine where you produce all the items needed to make a cocktail." I could see myself doing it just not with a martini, I'm more of a rusty nail drinker myself. But I wondered what all is actually produced, and how hard would it be to switch for another drink. So I watched the trailer and all the effects are well represented in that you can tell the basic idea of them except for Martini. The section for Martini has Chris Randall blowing confetti out of a cocktail glass and producing a silk from the confetti cloud and its not a very good production either. So I'm all "wait a minute, what does that have to do with producing a martini" and so I go searching after more info. I found another review that produced little helpful info, a thread on the Magic Cafe where someone refuses to comment on the DVD because of a low opinion of Mr Randall's personal character, and eventually this video of Chris Randall performing Martini live at the Magic Castle. I did not embed the video because I only include it so you can see what I speak of. After an introduction Mr Randall walks on stage carrying a cocktail glass full of confetti and like in the demo produces a silk from the confetti, then a lovely assistant brings out a tray and Randall set the cocktail glass on it and uses the silk to produce two ice cubes which he puts into the cocktail glass and then produces a bottle of clear liquid and pours pours it into the glass spraying the stage with liquid.

Now I am a bartending-o-phile, I like tending bar and mixing drinks. I'm into it, I know recipes for drinks and people like to give me bartending stuff as gifts. So I know I'm correct when I say "That was not a Martini at best it could be considered the worst Churchill ever made." Notice how I call it a cocktail glass and never a Martini glass like some uninformed people do. The cocktail glass is designed to serve cold drinks without ice, that's why they have a stem so your hand will not warm the drink up because it has no ice to keep it cool. So when he produces ice and puts it in the glass it drives me up the wall. I will conceded that from a distance a martini may look like clear water and so theoretically his bottle could contain a pre-mixed martini but him slinging water about the stage is unforgivable. Lastly where the hell is the olive. A martini is to be served with a olive.

Here's how you make a martini. Take tumbler add crushed ice. Add two ounces of gin, and a dash of vermouth. Stir then strain into a cocktail glass. Add add a twist of lemon and a green olive for garnish. Serve. Any variation from that recipe is not a martini, I mean that, because every variation has a different name. Shaken instead of stirred, that's a Bradford. Onion instead of an olive, that's a Gibson. No garnish, that's a Dickens. No vermouth, that's a Churchill.

Now I know us performers are a competitive lot and we all feel we could do better than whoever we're watching but in this case I really think I could. Not as a parlor routine like in the video but in a bar where I was employed to do magic and was allowed behind the bar (which is the a target market for the DVD) yeah I'm rather sure I can but you can be the judge of that.

Effect: The magician asks a spectator if they would like a magical martini. He borrows a cocktail glass from a bartender and a quarter from the spectator. He tells her that he needs to warm up the coin first, he takes out a handkerchief and vanishes the coin into it. The coin is found behind the magicians knee. The magician performs this two more times and after the last one a shaker is found under the handkerchief. The shaker is shown empty and holding the bottom half in one hand ice cascades down from the other into the shaker. The shaker reassembled the magician waves a bottle of gin over the shaker. He uncaps it and pours a cold martini into the cocktail glass, the lid picked back up to recap the shaker is found to have an olive underneath.

I feel that effect delivers what I was expecting the one from the DVD to be and is easily modified to fit any mixed drink. I think I'll hold onto the method for now. Mostly cause I'm tired of typing, if it sounds like an effect you'd be interested in let me know.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Character in Performance by Eric Mead
An interesting article found on Dan and Dave Buck's website by Eric Mead about the importance of character and how it relates to one's show. I have always felt that character is important, that it's one of the things that separates magicians from guys doing tricks. In the article Mead poses two questions to ask one's self.  "1. What is my character? And 2. What is my show about? Or to say it differently, Who am I in performance? And Why am I performing? Answering these questions will go a long way to giving you an original point of view, and a reason for an audience to watch." Mead says being able to answer these questions clearly and succinctly is important. So I will endeavor to answer them here.

1. What is my character? 
A wizard conman/salesman.

2. What is my show about?
My show is about selling some magical item.

Those are the main ideas in my head when imaging my show.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Well Darn

I had always wanted call my show, troupe, performance company "The Bizarre Bazaar". I liked the sound of it, the alliteration, and the image in my head of it but as it turns out its a popular name. A google of it finds that several groups use it for a name including a tumblr that tumbles (is that the right verb for tumblr) porn, the top link for it is a market that sales Christmas stuff. This will not do I need a name that will not be bogged down and hidden among everything and won't be confused with porn. So it's back to the drawing board. Business is hardwork.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This is Mentalism Vol Rich Ferguson from Ellusionist

So nine effects that according to the Ellusionist website geared towards the serious mentalism worker. I mainy bought this as way to qualify for an LTD deck for the promotion that Ellusionist had when they released Blackmail and Lockdown. I didn't care to get Lockdown and so I just picked one of the other things I wanted that would qualify for promotion.(big fan of the eany, meany, miney, moe meathod) I ended up with "This is Mentalism Vol 2" by Rich Ferguson from Ellusionist. I'll do my best to not reveal to much but to give an honest review.

Vision is a two prediction effect where you have two spectators think of something and you figure it out. Now there are several bits of business going on behind the scenes that make this effect work. I don't know if the really fast back and forth is just Rich Ferguson's way or if it's vital to the effect but it's not for me. Now this effect requires a force and depending on the force there's a chance the effect will half fail. Other than that all the rest of it is pretty strait forward and not too complicated. It's not a bad effect but it's not for me.

Psychometry Prediction
Three spectators think of something, write it on the back of a business cards and then seal them in coin envelopes and then performer mixes divines whose envelope belonged to who and what they wrote. Like the last effect there are several magic principles at work. You have to build a gimmick as well. There a lot of choreography going on here, and I've rarely had to blow away three spectators at once. So this effect seems like a bit much for something I may never use. It's a good effect and the principles are solid and one's a mentalist should know, but rarely can I think of a time where I've had the attention of more than two spectators. That said this could be scaled down but why would I want to go through all the trouble when the first effect on the disk is the same sort and doesn't require I build a gimmick for each performance.

A person picks a word writes it down, the mentalist reads their minds. It's a gimmick based effect and rather strait forward and simple. Which means more than the ones before the impact of this effect relies on the performers ability to sell it. The principle could be use in other ways but here it used with a book. I know book tests are classics of mentalism but I don't like the idea of carrying around a book just for an effect, especially one like in this effect. In fact I don't like the idea of a book test in close up/strolling magic settings. I think they're better in more parlor or larger setting. If you could set this up in someone home and make it look natural and impromptu that would be awesome.

Hidden Key
Another book test with another gimmick, even if it is really clever gimmick it's still a book test. The gimmick in this one is a bit more complicated than the last but it has a longer life span. With all the ways out there to divine a word spectator has chosen I fail to see the point of carrying a book of any real size aound around unless you plan to use it to force a word.

A newspaper test. I can get much more behind this one in the field than a book test. This one requires you to make another gimmick but one that will last a very long time and that you make most of the way often enough I'd bet.

Way out of this world
It's a variation on the 'Out of this world' card effect. I'm not a fan of the OOTW effects to begin with and I can't say this one changed my mind any.

A bill test where the spectator takes $1 dollar bill and performer divines the serial number. A fair bit of prep required but once you have it all put together you'll be ready to go, just be careful not to spend your setup.

Lie to me
Probably my favorite effect on the dvd, although I'd may or may not use the lie detector like patter. Simple effect objects in a bag spectators each take one and the magician divines the who has the odd one out. Not really difficult but it is one of those effects where it takes acting because the performer doesn't know which one right away.

I'm kinda iffy on the inclusion of this on the DVD. I mean I'm sure if you own a wiregram then it's valuable information but if you don't well it does lose some value.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Well I want to start by saying this is my blog and as such you will get my side of the story and to heck with journalistic integrity. If you wan't to get the other side of the story do your own research.

So Ellusionist had a retention vanish contest and I being the generous soul decided that it would be helpful to offer critiques. One of my biggest complaints was that most of the videos were silent or just had music to cover the noise. Well of all the complaints I made that one seem to ruffle the most feathers. The standard reply was that they just did what required by the contest to enter and nothing more. To me that was like saying I'm only here for the awesome prize and no other reason. My reaction was "You lazy opportunity wasting fucks." I mean are you so egotistical that you really think you have a perfect retention vanish and the contest will be a cinch, cause that's the only justification for such a low level effort. And I wasn't too riled up until one of them called me out for doing too much.

I busted my ass. I came up with a routine, practiced it, timed it to see if I could do it in the time limit. Then I practiced it over and over again. Then I showed it to real people. And finally I recorded it seven times, four of which I got all the way through without an interruption.

Whether or not I win the contest I still come out ahead. Besides all the practice looking at all those videos revealed to me a problem I never saw in all my time practicing for the mirror. I attribute not seeing it before to the fact that I've been looking at these hand for years but the pinky on my right hand sticks out father than normal most likely from the accident when I was a child. It creates a large window when I have something finger palmed. I have to consciously choose to close it and its little uncomfortable to do so.

An perhaps the biggest win is that I now have a new routine to add to my repertoire and I don't just mean that theoretically. Last night I used a modified presentation to hand out rubber rats at a Halloween party.

Ratings system

You may have noticed that my reviews lack any kind of scale. I don't give a set of stars, of 8 out of 10. I could never work out a good metric for the scale so that it would have consistency. If I did a scale it would be a binary one because that really all the scale tells you. And it such an arbitrary thing any way, read enough reviews and you'll see what I mean. I've read review where all the reviewer did was trash and bitch about the product and still give it 3 out of 5 stars. And that's right next to reviews that sing the praises of a product with nary a bad thing to say also gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I'm like "What?" Are the reviewers just too afraid to reflect their view with stars so they give it a nice middle of the road non-committal three? I don't think I'd add a system anytime soon, I might as well add a too long didn't read summery to the ends of my posts.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The various roles of a magician.

The writer writes it, the director directs it and the actor acts it. All three are distincly different jobs and many books advise against crossing roles. None of them is an easy role to fulfill either. But a magician is expected to fulfill all three. In fact if he does not he is looked down on by the magic fraternity. Which is dumb most of the big magic names have huge crews to help them succeed. Any way you start with the writing, if you don't write your own patter you are not a real artist or what ever. This idea is stupid because if everyone could write something entertaining they would. But lets say you write some patter now you have to direct it. Which bring its own problems like how do you know what needs to be cut out. Besides the fact that you are attached to what you wrote being a genius artist that you are, its hard to step out of your self and objectively review the material as it is performed. So now you have to act it and the only thing you have to go on is your audiences reactions good reactions means on the right track bad one means its back to the drawing board. Being a performer is hard work and even harder considering that any failure is on your own shoulders. Definitely not a career path for every one.

Monday, October 1, 2012

America's Got Talent?

If the videos don't work The top was Rudy Coby's Puppet Boy Routine from America's Got Talent. Which to put lightly was not well received by the judges. And the bottom is the original routine as it aired back in the day. I think the first difference to notice is that the bottom routine is twice as long as the top. So what did he have to get rid of in order to make his routine fit the minute and half time frame. Well almost all of the build up, which is very important to the routine. His being mean to the puppet is there to set the audience against him. When the decapitation happens, you're supposed to feel a little shocked and little like he had it coming. That he also turns out to be the puppet is some psychological mumbo jumbo I don't want to get into. He also had to cut out a lot of time between putting the puppet in the box and the decapitation.
There was also a derisive comment about his outfit. Well the outfit is another part of setting the audience against Coby and it really needs all the being mean to the puppet that was cut out for it to work.

So basically what happened was Coby took one his old routines and pared it down to fit on AGT. But you can't really blame him seeing as less well established magicians have gone broke trying to come up with new effects each week on AGT. Illusions are not cheap and they usually require other performers to work so there's the cost to pay them too. And moving all that junk to the performance venue can't be too cheap either.

Now I don't watch AGT but it's near impossible to follow magic news without seeing something about it. I don't really believe variety acts stand a chance on AGT. Google-ing for a list of past winners seems to support that. So why can't non-singers win. Well I don't think its structured so that other acts have a fair chance. It not hard to crush a song in a minute and a half, really it only take 20-30 seconds to tell if a singer is good or not. But most variety act need time to build. If I were the cynical sort I'd also say that the producers don't want variety act to win because its harder to market and sell them.

So given the chance would I ever try out for it or a show like it, knowing I can't win the whole thing and that it will be costly. I would probably come up with a something and if I thought it was good enough I'd give it a go. For the simple reason it gives you something you can't buy, publicity. I go on and wow people and I can guarantee that my name gets Googled, my site gets hits, some of which may well lead to work.

Halloween is coming

Halloween is coming, time to get my spooky effects ready.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

J. B. Bobo Modern Coin Magic

You could call this book the Royal Road to coin magic. It has every thing you could need to get started and much like the Royal Road to Card Magic comes highly recommended. I'll be honest when I say I'm skipping whole sections. I guess I need to learn the skills but I'm rarely dressed with sleeves and cuffs and I don't own a coin box or any of the gimmicks mentioned. But as far as the sleight of hand is concerned there is plenty in this book and one will not find themselves bereft of effects. I'm already practicing a few to add to my repertoire and I'm not half through with book. I'll definitely be using the coin through ring, and coins to glass. This book is a must have and I won't be surprised if I wear it out and have to get another.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Worst spectator ever.

I've had bad spectators before, I don't count hecklers in that group. When I say bad spectators I usually mean someone that is uninterested but agreed to see what's up anyway. They don't really want to watch so they don't pay attention. I had this one spectator that spent the whole time I was performing staring at a girls ass so far to my left that I wasn't in his peripheral vision anymore, and then he told me he knew how the effect worked. I'd be surprised if could even describe the effect.

But he wasn't the worst. Last week I attended a friends birthday party. We were out on the patio and I had just finished giving my friend the gift of magic for her birthday. Her neighbor came by walking his dog (apartment complex) and as I already had my cards out I went to show him some magic. So the first bit of annoying was he called the effect a joke and immediately showed me the card I had him take. He said "I forget how this joke goes." I though maybe he was talking about the old gag where you fan the cards facing you and have someone take one and you tell what it is. So I laughed and played it off. I started over and he said it was a joke a few more times before I realized he did not know what was going on. I explained to him that it was a magic effect. And started over I had him take a card and I had him show the birthday girl for validation later. He kept glancing at her the whole time like checking for permission to interact with me, she was kind of ignoring him and I was too busy trying to do magic to read into it. I was doing the Biddle effect  (for those don't know the Biddle effect is a magician in trouble plot where the magician doesn't find the card and has to recover through magic) and I turned up the indifferent card and acted like it was his like I'm supposed to, and instead of correcting me he confirmed that it was his card. I was flummoxed, I knew it wasn't but everything about him said he believed it to be his card, his tone, his body language, so either he was an very good liar or truly didn't realize that it wasn't. The only other person who knew what his card was projecting sod off at him with her body language so I wasn't about to ask her. I slid into a few phases of my ACR so that there was at least some magic happening and then bid him farewell. I later inquired about him to the birthday girl and it seems that he has a huge crush on her and she does her best to ignore him so as not to encourage him. So far he was the worst spectator ever.

*Update: Recently had a new worst.*

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tony Clark Victorian style close up pad

I don't have one, so this is not a review. I kind of wish I did though. Why only kinda, well when you're trying to sell me a $250 anything, is more than four black and white photos too much to ask for? If I'm going to buy something I need to know how it looks I need to be able to picture myself enjoying it. See if it fits with my mental image of my act. The more an item cost the better that mental picture needs to be. Now if you google around for it you can find some color video of it. But I shouldn't have to go out of my way to sell myself a product.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shame on me?

So I was at a friends going away party and I don't like parties. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs, and my interesting in nailing drunk chicks is surprisingly low for my age range and peer group but parties are a good opportunity to practice my magic. Well I approached one person to inquire if there were interested in seeing some magic. The were surprised not at the opportunity to see magic but that there were two magicians at the party. I was surprised myself, of course I had to seek out this magic man. I found him and he was a bit too drunk for magic but still doing it anyway, by too drunk I mean he couldn't still perform his slights and he had this color change he though was all that but I couldn't see it fooling a sober person. Most of what he showed me (and that I saw him show others before I approached him) was packet tricks even that color change he use the jokers and carried them separate from the deck. As far as I can tell he used the deck one time. And card magic was all I saw him do. I was polite watched everything he wanted to show me and the harshest thing I said to him was "Probably works better when your spectator isn't a magician." When he showed me that horrible color change.

Now where is the shame on me part that gave the post it's title? Well later as I was heading out one of my friend stopped and inquires if I had found the other magician and what I thought of him. My reply among other comments was "I'm a magician, he's just a guy with a magic hobby." Oh the hubris. I know I was once like him in skill level at the very least. Saying something so derisive is not to be done, although I still stand by that statement. I know there are various ways people define what makes a magician. But at least to me its more than someone that knows a few packet tricks.

I have a character, I do more than card effects, and I've practiced my effects so much that even when I'm fall down drunk (I got drunk to please a depressed friend, it was not fun, but I do not regret it) I can still do my sleights flawlessly. I'm committed to magic and performing. I study and practice every day. That makes me a magician. One day I will be a professional performer.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Learning magic is tough.

In following the advice of coin magicians to palm a coin all the time, after a drive to town and back I found two bruises on my palm.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Three fry by Chris Kenner from Theory11

Hello, my name is Magnus and I am a magic addict. But Seriously this purchase was a feel good purchase I was feeling down and just wanted to buy some magic. It was in my price range so I got it. Its a nice effect, like all Three Fly effects it involves the disappearance and reappearance of three coins as they travel from one hand to the other. Its been a pain to learn cause the slights involved mean I have to do it left handed. But I like Chris Kenner as a teacher, he does a good job he's likable, easy to understand, and offers good advice. He recommends dollar sized coins for this effect and I don't have any nor the finances to get any in the near future. It will work with half dollars, even easier with halfs he says but it loses a little something visually. None of the slights are too complicated, the hardest move is combination of two sleights that have to happen together with good timing.

I'd like it more if it were more visual, most of the vanishes happen out of sight. The first two vanishes happen in a closed hand. That is you toss the coins to the other hand and then open it to find one missing. The last one is more of retention vanish. Then it moves rather fast after the last vanish, like you take all the time you want vanishing the coins but after that last coin is seen gone you're off to the races. The coins are reproduced quickly and as soon as possible to give the spectators no time to think. I'd like to be able to slow it down and produce the coins in a more visual fashion.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Weak Performer

“Magic is a powerful art that can support a weak performer.” – Ricky Jay

It's true, I've found that there are effects that if I don't feel like performing that I can just do them going throught the motions and they will be enjoyed by the spectator. Sometimes I don't feel like performing and in those times I can't seem to muster up all what ever it is that I need to perform and it sucks for my spectators because they are the ones that lose out. I need to get over it, but at least there are effects that will prop me up untill I can learn how to do better. The Biddle trick is such an effect.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shapeshifter by Marc DeSouza from Ellusionist

So I came in runner up in a contest on the Ellusionist forum and my prize was the download of shapeshifter. This download had been on my wishlist for a while and I wanted it, so I was quite happy. Old video is old at least that's what I felt watching the first half of the video. The section with Marc DeSouza has a grainy quality to it, especially next to the video of Brad Christian. But other than that I have no complaints about the quality.

First up is Brad Christian with some jibber jabber and after him is Marc Desouza and a history lesson on the move even going so far as to show you the move that Shapeshifter was based on. More info than I really needed but compared to the videos that give no credit to the people its a good thing. He does an excellent job of explaining and demonstrating the move. After teaching Shapeshifter he talks about how he does it most often and introduces another move called the 'Dribble Double' which he uses to set up for Shapeshifter. The dribble double is an OK move, not too hard but it seems like a lot of work to get a double. Next is another move and an effect based on it I prefer called the 'Cover Change'. Its a little double color change effect that I feel makes a good opener. It's quick and it visual. Following that is another color change called the 'New Theory Classic Change' It's good one but a little awkward for me as I did not have a good foundation of skills for it. Next  up came a move that I immediately added to my ACR to replace a move I was not happy with. The new move being "LePaul Side Steal". This move was a move I needed, I'll probably get more use from it than from the Shapeshifter. Next up was the 'Erdnase Palm Shift' which I felt was more of the same as the side steal. And that's it for DeSouza's bit.
Next up is Brad Christian section. He start with some advice in the keep at it and you will get it vein of advice. Then he teaches a way to get set up for Shapeshifter that is good for practice and an alternate handling for tiny hands, how to get out of it and just more advice in general. Now here comes my big complaint for this DVD, the effect Gypsy Burn. Move wise its overly complicated. It felt to me like while they were planning it someone said "What this DVD need to make it sellable is a full effect that uses Shapeshifter." and they had none so they took an effect and stuck Shapeshifter in it. The problem is that they are using it as a switch instead of the visual color change change it is. Move wise there is a lot to do so that you can use Shapeshifter which means there is a lot of area to get caught. By replacing all that nonsense with a double turnover you minimize the complexity and the chance of getting caught. Other than being made too complicated move wise its a good effect.

Overall I've very happy with the product and I'm glad I have it. What was in this download, three color changes, two side steals, a fancy double, a quick effect, and a bigger effect that needs work.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Coin magic.

So I never thought I would be doing coin magic. First a little back story, when I was around the age of three I lived on a chicken farm the type you get eggs from. Well what happens on those farms is the chicken lays the eggs and it rolls down a ramp onto a conveyor belt. One day my right hand was crushed by one of the machines. And that has been a pain in my butt ever since.

What does that have to do with coin magic, well the damage to my hand left a lot of scar tissue on my palm right where I would classic palm a coin. The scar tissue won't grab a coin, the coin slides across it, so I can't palm. And a lot of the effects I came across in my hodge podge days of starting in magic called for classic palming with the right hand. Eventually I wrote it off as not possible for me.

I'm older and wiser now and I know there is a lot more to coin magic than classic palming. So it's possible to work around not being able to classic palm with one hand. Its not easy and sometime it means learning a trick left handed which is a pain.

All that aside I kind of wish I had started study of coin magic immediately. There's something that really resonates with me about it. Its visual and it's flashy, I like that in my magic, even in my card magic.  Good coin magic also requires a lot of manual dexterity which is good for my damaged hand.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Robocycle from Bicycle

As usual I was in my local big box store and I came across a deck of cards I did not own yet so I got them. Bicycle Robocycle, robot themed playing cards. There were two options dark gray and light gray, I opted for the dark gray ones. I ran them through my drills which mean I did every move I use and all my effects with them and they felt and handled like a standard deck of bikes. The robot motif is expressed on the backs of the cards with a circuit board design. The back is also where a lot of magicians would complain because while it does have a border, the boarder is dark gray while the front to the cards are white. The suits are all standard and look like you would find on any other deck of cards. The face cards and jokers are all robots and I liked that the suicide king and the one eyed jacks where well represented. Under the seal is the words Theory11 but I couldn't find this deck on their website so I don't know. But if it is a product from a magic company that would explain the blank faced card that came with the deck. But not why it was at a local store for so cheap. Anyway personally I don't like this deck I think it's ugly and the whole point of using a custom deck is that it aesthetically pleasing.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trying again

Well it seem that every time I work on this blog I burn out after a weeks or what ever well, I'm going to try it again. I'm moving to a twice a week schedule. Mondays and Thursdays. I'm dropping the Inspire Friday, as those were getting no love. According to the stats most people come here for the reviews. I can't promise many more of those unless someone want to donate some magic stuff to me. I'm behind the six right not but as soon as I find myself flush I'm going to buy some Ellusionist coins. My next post and one that is on schedule will be a review of Robocycle cards.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


So tooling around the old threads on forums you find interesting ideas. Unfortunately its bad form to post in old threads but luckily I have a blog so I can still say what I want. One of the topics was about mastery. The questions were; 'What is mastery of an effect? Can any effect be truly mastered? And Do you need to master all your tricks?'

To me mastery of an effect means you know that effect inside and out, you know what it takes to perform it, you know how the audiance percives it, you know most alternate handlings. You know every thing that can be expected of you to know about that effect. You should also have reached unconscious competence. That's a lot of stuff for just one effect but that's what mastery means.

Can an effect be truly masterd? Of course, I think I can confidently say Whit Haydn is a master of the shell game. Gazzo is a master of the busking Cups and Balls.

Do you need to master all your tricks? Hell no! That would be insane. Now you need to put the time in to perfect them but you can stop there. You need to be able to perform the effects you have decided to add to you repertoir with no trouble. But do you need to master all of them? Uh No. Mastery should be saved for effects you love, the effects that you want to do for the rest of your career.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Another thread found in the back pages of a forum talked about sacrifice. The question was what would you sacrifice to be a great magician. I think this is actually a good question for all performers to consider. What would I sacrifice to be a great performer  A whole lot I think. Time, friends, family, money, other hobbies. When it comes down to it someday I might die (I plan to be immortal, so far so good) and when I do I don't want them to say, "Oh yeah he was a good guy, we hung out sometimes  I think he was some sort of magician." I want them to say "He was some sort of reality changing wizard. The worlds a bit darker having lost him." What do I have to sacrifice for that? Cause that's what I'd be willing to sacrifice. Sacrifice is the price of mastery.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


So I've learned that magic is easy real easy. Performing is hard. Really hard. So I've been looking into acting and directing and stage craft. Anything that will help me onstage.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Butterfly Idea

The magician while trying to perform is plagued by a fly. Magician stops effect and tries to snatch the fly out of the air. After a few failures the magician succeeds. Holding his hand triumphantly before him the magician un-clenches his fist and a butterfly flies out. Magician apologizes for the interruption and goes back to what he was originally doing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cups and Balls Idea

So this idea came to me while I was practicing the cups and balls. My brother was there drunk and kept messing with stuff. One thing he kept doing was lifting the cup on the end. So what I'm thinking is you have a stooge play a drunk come up and lift the end cup to reveal the ball early, you take the cup back and pick up the ball. You put the cup back and vanish the ball. The drunk picks the cup up again to reveal the ball. Repeat a few times getting angrier each time then in the classic style of the stooge you beat on him and toss him away. Finish routine from there.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Loops vs IET

The first loop I ever broke wasn't due to performance  its was just sitting there loose on my wrist. I reached down without looking to pluck off what felt like a loose hair. And there went my loop. At three bucks a piece I can't be that careless with them. But with a spool of thread I've already tied and lost twice as many as I could buy so right there I'm well ahead cash wise. I have used name brand Loops and I can say that its much cheaper to tie my own with no noticeable difference in quality. I also like that by tying my own I can control the size so its not a one size fits all loop.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kard Klub from Ellusionist

So I knew going in that Kard Klub was all based around the Two Card Monte effect, but I was more interested in it for its claim of being aimed improving ones performance skills. I have the same complaint for this that I had for Stigmata, cheap case that broke. Other than that the DVD was fine physically. So I have thought about learning the Two Card Monte, effect maybe it would be easier to apply the lessons of the DVD. I could even make it work easily with my character. But I just don't like the effect all that much. So I'm not going to be doing it. However in addition to a few moves worth learning there is a lot to be gained from this DVD. Of course Brad Christian teaches the Two Card Monte, that is just a small part of it, most of the DVD is clips of people with various skill levels performing the the Two Card Monte and then re-playing the clips with Brad Christian pointing out where they were good and where they were bad. For example one performer gets so caught up in playing with the spectator that she gets bored and ends up messing up the effect. The performer lost his ability to manage his audience with his goofing off. Although I felt that while it wasn't when he wanted her to turn the cards over, if he had just rolled with the punches he would have been fine. When the trick goes south he just folds up, his whole body droops, its obvious to everyone that what happened wasn't supposed to happen. He was done with all the secret moves though, the part he was at was a final build up before the reveal. So there was impact lost there, nothing he can do about that, but if had just went about the routine from the reveal no one but another magician would known that wasn't supposed to happen. While I don't care for the Two Card Monte I do like that using one effect throughout the video makes it easier to compare and contrast performances. In addition to the DVD I got a little booklet and access to the private forum. The booklet is nice, it's mostly re-iterations of the info on the DVD but it does have the routines and I've found it easier to learn a routine from a written source. The forum was active at some point in history as evidenced by the fact that at the time of this writing, it goes back 18 pages but its pretty much dead now. The last time someone made a post in it they had to post in the general forum to get attention drawn to it.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

That's a trick deck.

Due to the specific nature of this blog its probably safe to say that you my reader have been to a forum of some sort for magicians. However just in case you have not allow me to illuminate you as to a constant theme that pops up over again. There are basically two groups, one group says that if you use any deck of cards other than Rider backed Bicycles your spectator will think that you are using a trick deck. And the other group is sane, I'm kidding but the other group doesn't think that it has anything to do with the deck. I am of the second group and I believe that if the spectator thinks you are using a trick deck then it is your failing as a performer that caused this.

I only use Rider backed cards in two instances, practice and gaff work. The only time that I use Rider backs in front of  spectators is when they have the most reason to be suspicious. I mostly use Artifices now and before that oddly colored decks produced by MagicMakers INC.

I remember that cards existed before I got into magic seriously but I can't say that I remember their backs, and rarely were they expensive Bikes only serious card players would buy those. I can remember one back. When I was about 10 I got every trick deck at the Dollar Tree. One of which was a marked back deck and I had to memorize the secret markings. So that back kind of sticks out in my memory.

You know that if you go to your nearest store that sells cards, they have decks that only cost $1. They are complete crap when it comes to handling but they will work for any card game you could want to play. Now if you need to manipulate cards then you want bikes. Did you also know that right next to the Bikes, there are decks with much more interesting designs for a comparable price. Coke-Cola, Spongebob, Micky Mouse, Star Wars, are all represented in card form at my local store. My mom plays solitaire and she has two deck of bikes that I gave her after I no longer needed them. One of them is that silver deck Bicycle put out.  She has two other decks one has American flags on it and the other Battleships. My sister likes card based drinking game both of the times she went out and got a deck, she did not get bikes, she got Micky Mouse and Spongebob. I left a deck of red backed bikes out on a table one day after practicing and my mother asked me if it was one of those expensive decks I got online.

So if its not the cards that make people think you are using a trick deck then what does that leave? It leaves the performer. More so it is the performers character that leads the audience to believe that it is a trick deck. If you can't find anything in your performance character that leads people that way maybe its some of the real you slipping through. How do you feel about tricks and gimmicks like that? Me personally I'd rather do it all through slight of hand if I could. Which is probably why people come to that conclusion when watching me instead of the trick deck one.