C'EST MAGNIFIQUE -- What a nice surprise to get to read The Award-Winning Rope Magic of Francis Tabary. I was previously familiar with M. Tabary's FISM rope routine, developed over 30 years in France, but was not prepared for the unprecedented excellence of this book. Rope magic, and magic in general, has never looked quite like this on the page. (This, if Richard Kaufman were still upgrading the look and feel and quality of magic books instead of the look and feel and quality of Genii, is the sort of book he might have surprised us with.) The book is completely story-boarded with cartoon drawings, as shown on this page, to the extent that it's like watching the performance live or on dvd.
" ... with one knot here and no knot on the other end."
The author and illustrator first show you what the routine looks like to the audience, and then lead you carefully through the how and why. In addition to the FISM act, Tabary presents a Ring on Rope routine (I know, there have been many in the past, and I have generally found them boring and non-magical; this routine looks so good that you will want to learn it and perform it, as I do), a Close-up Routine that features appearing, vanishing, and jumping knots, and a Miscellaneous chapter that features such varied items as a knot that floats off the rope and then returns, where it is untied, and an impromptu card lassoing routine. All the major routines are multi-phase routines, and most of the phases are impromptu, so this is a book full of anywhere anytime miracles. All this in a most attractive oversized 263-page book, written (I assume) by Tabary, illustrated by Jean-Francis Michel (Jeff), translated by Todd Karr, and published by A-1 Magical Media. (Cautionary note: television performance rights require prior agreement with the author and publisher.) $65 from your favorite dealer.
LANG MAY YOUR LUM REEK -- I've no idea what that title means, but it was the sentiment Lewis Ganson expressed to Dave Campbell in January 1969 on the occasion of Mr. Campbell's gracing the cover of The Gen for that month. For those who may have missed that issue's contribution ("The Substitution," a visual coin exchange), it and over 60 additional items from the late Mr. Campbell appear in The Dave Campbell Legacy, a 431-page hardback written by Peter Duffie.
Dave Campbell, 1969
All but seven of the items are card tricks, and, oh, what card tricks these are! Sometimes, when a book is advertised to contain variations of common themes, the variations are often interesting but minor. This is not the case with Mr. Campbell: here are "Slow Motion Four Aces" and "Cards Through Newspaper" and "The Cannibal Cards" unlike anything you have seen before, in either effect or method. In addition to the original "Fred" trick, Mr. Campbell's creations also include "Leap Frog" (spek cards jump back and forth between pairs of jacks), "Dave's Premonition" (a killer takeoff on the Eddie Joseph deck), "Enveloped" (a signed card between two jacks changes places with a card sealed in an envelope), "Automatic Speller" (a stack that will fool magicians), "Ricochet" (remarkable transposition of three signed cards, with no duplicates), "Dave's Dotty Spots" (amazing color separation; note: the Daley Switch could add a phase or two to this), "Irish Poker Hand" (perfect for today's poker environment, dead easy), "Highly Progressive Jokers" (easy version in which jokers progressively migrate from packet to packet), "Houdini Escapes" (a Houdini card among five blanks jumps to your wallet), and "Cards to Pocket" (one duplicate card makes this classic oh so easy). I could name many more, as there are virtually no weak items in the book, and the methods are wonderfully satisfying. Indeed: about 12:30 one evening, as I was reading the book, I stumbled upon my personal holy grail of card magic, an easy method to accomplish something that has been eluding me for four decades. Sorry, I won't say just what, only that I was very very pleased and couldn't get to sleep. I think my lum reeked the rest of the night! This book is currently available from International Magic in London (www.internationalmagic.com) for about $65. Service was prompt and efficient.
DARYL DOOLERS -- In addition to Mike Close, Daryl has also been showing up on the Genii Forum in the context of terrific reviews for his lecture. He too has products to sell at these lectures, and he and Alison have been attractively packaging them as Fooler Doolers (Daryl's web site is www.foolerdooler.com), each with not only nicely written instructions, but also a dvd of Daryl performing the routines. To mention a few, "Double Crossed" is a killer thought-of cards across routine that requires no skill, and "Group Session" works like the Hoy tossed deck routine except that you spread the cards and allow different spectators to merely think of cards they see. You end clean with a normal 52-card deck. If you want to learn this routine, and you very well might, be sure to study Harry Anderson's presentation in his book Wise Guy. Perhaps the top of Daryl's product line is his "Daryl's Amazing Acrobatic Knot." This is a stunning bit of magic in which, among other things, a knot from a white rope jumps to a red rope. That said, and at the risk of blasphemy (after all, Daryl has done this thousands of times, as have his students), I don't particularly like the routine. The twirling of the ropes and then wadding them up just isn't me. I think I've come up with a cleaner routine, which you can check out if you wish at Slightly Cooler Fooler Dooler. Whatever, you need Daryl's ropes to do the trick, and I think you'll enjoy doing it. "Group Session" is $19.95, "Double Crossed" is $29.95, and "Daryl's Amazing Acrobatic Knot" is $39.95, directly from Daryl.
First, I offer congratulations and thanks to Mike Close for completing 10 long years as the product reviewer for MAGIC. (All the reviews are available on CD; check Mike's web site mentioned elsewhere or on our Favorite Links.) I have the advantage of reviewing only stuff I like, while Mike took on the task of reviewing it all, from the good to the mediocre to the dismal. As to this April issue, it's long enough for me to be rethinking my own priorities (I don't make money at this, and it doesn't get me laid!), so Mike's efforts are uppermost in my mind right now. But to what follows: Do enjoy three fantastic books, tricks from Daryl and Dan Harlan/Mike Maxwell, one terrific lecture, and even a great movie. All this and more photos than usual.
WILD ABOUT HARRY -- What was for many the magic book of the last century just may become the magic book of this century. Harry Lorayne has just released Lorayne: The Classic Collection, a hardback compilation of five us his most famous titles -- Close-Up Card Magic, Personal Secrets, My Favorite Card Tricks, Deck-Sterity, and The Epitome Location -- along with a bonus chapter of 16 new card tricks. Harry subtitles it as "Omissions, Additions, Decisions, Revisions, Upgradings, and Updatings" of the above works, and this 442-page book is just that. Some of the weaker items of an earlier day have been deleted, with the cream (and fans will consider just about all of it cream) enhanced by hundreds of new photos, credits, cross references, evolved methods, and chatter by Harry about how the items have fared over the decades. Close-Up Card Magic in particular started me on a lifetime love of card tricks, and revisiting the material in this book is like walking into a party of old friends. (I won't begin to discuss individual items, as most of you are familiar with this material.) What made the book so special in many minds was that the tricks were all so bloody commercial, not to mention practical (Paul Cummins had yet to coin the term FASDIU, which applies to so much of this). Harry gave us real tricks with real presentations that would entertain real people. Now that it's larger and demonstrably better than ever, this is the book, the one to take to the beach, or to that deserted island, or to study deep into the night in your library, or from which to mine a repertoire that could earn you a living. Or just to enjoy Harry's teaching, his ramblings, and his enthusiasm. Order directly from Harry Lorayne, 62 Jane Street, New York NY, 10014. It's $97.90 pp in the U.S., $104.90 elsewhere. (Check the ads for a $5 deal.)
ROAD TRIP -- Last night (April 21), at the Circle Center Mall in Indianapolis, characters (who were old enough to know better) in full Star Wars attire wandered through the food court, having briefly escaped from whatever hotel is hosting a four-day Star Wars convention, with George Lucas himself in attendance. A half-hour later, I couldn't help but feel I was watching Obi-Wan Kenobi and young Luke himself as Harry Riser introduced his one-time protege, Mike Close, at the start of Mike's lecture in Indianapolis.
Mike Close and Harry Riser, 2005
Those of you lurking with me on the Genii Forum have been following Mike's tour across the country and the fantastic reviews he has been receiving at every stop. Part of the acclaim has been for the fact that this is a three-hour high tech lecture: Mike's points are illustrated and punctuated by Power Point slides; his on-screen demo of Closely Guarded Secrets elicits gasps when multiple photos come to life as in the Harry Potter books; and his lecture notes are 160 pages thanks to their availability in .pdf format. A second part of the acclaim is for the considerable magical education that Mike delivers at each venue. This is the part that I liked best and am always pleased and surprised (though I shouldn't be) to learn something new (and important) every time I see Mike work. Mike frames the talk by introducing three big secrets of magic (one could also call them goals or even measurable standards). He then applies these goals to everything he does. I've had the pleasure of seeing Mike work in the Monte Carlo's Houdini Lounge, and it is mostly from that venue's repertoire that Mike chose items to illustrate his points. (These items are also mostly to be found in Closely Guarded Secrets.) It follows that those of us who have casually read Mike's book or who have simply been in magic for a long time may have felt that we "knew" how Mike did "The Trick that Lance Burton Showed Me" or Gary Plants's "Magnetized Cards" or "The Luckiest Cards in Las Vegas," among others shown. But it was only when Mike pointed out the details, of how he got into and out of every situation, that we realized how badly we were fooled. From both an intellectual viewpoint as well as a practical performing viewpoint, it was also fascinating to hear Mike explain how those original three secrets (standards one could apply to any item in his repertoire) led to those details and to the evolution of the material. The third part of the acclaim is simply for the fact that Mike is an entertainer, a funny, intelligent guy who would be enjoyable to watch for three hours even if he didn't know any card tricks, and his wife, Lisa, who helps move the merchandise and who did beyond-the-call work on the book editing (I cringed as Mike described upgrading his oldest books, because I went through the same torment with some non-magical writing of my own), is also a joy to know.
Mike and Lisa, 2005
One might not have the same material available without her, and probably not a lecture tour such as this, as she no doubt makes the endless road trip not only tolerable for Mike but actually enjoyable. Even though it probably seems like it to Mike and Lisa, this lecture tour won't last forever. Catch it if you can. (All the products are available, along with the rest of the tour dates and even a trip blog, at www.michaelclose.com.)
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY -- When Dan Harlan's flip-book card discovery "CardToon" appeared a few years ago, it was wildly popular. Variations have appeared, the most recent being Michael Maxwell's "Toony Angel," from A-1 Magical Media, in which one of the bike riding angels pedals around and discovers a full-color replica of any card named. As impressive as this is, I personally tend to avoid magic tricks in which all the magic is clearly coming from the prop instead of me. The trick also suffers from the basic situation that you can perform it for only one person at a time. What to do? Fortunately, Mike Close has come up with a perfect solution, which, when he combines it with my favorite Karrell Fox trick, creates an entertainment experience for a bar situation that audiences will never forget. This routine appears in Workers 4 as "Ruthless Peep-Hole" and more signficantly for this review on the dvd Toony Angel & Cardtoon DVD, also from A-1. The latter contains other uses for these animated card discovery decks, but for me the Mike Close routine is all the justification you need to acquire and learn to use them. "Toony Angel" and the dvd are $15 each at your favorite dealer.
I'LL BET YOU CAN'T DO THAT -- Bright Young Things is a honey of a movie, a romantic comedy directed by Stephen Fry and based on the Evelyn Waugh novel Vile Bodies. (And starring the beautiful Emily Mortimer, daughter of the Rumpole author.) It follows the fortunes and failures of London's partying aristocrats between the wars. In an early scene, a young man named Ginger performs "Matrix" using two cards as covers. When the hero, Adam, is unimpressed, Ginger bets him 500 pounds he can't do it. Adam then accepts the bet and does "Matrix" using only his hands. (So here is a new presentation ploy for you guys! If you've ever seen Del Ray wager 50 bucks throughout his act ...) In one of the extra features, Stephen Fry mentions that he brought in a magician to teach the trick(s), and that the two actors performed them for real. I scanned the credits closely but could find no one to acknowledge.
For the Daryl items, the "Toony Angel" items, and the Tabary book, dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies on the web at www.murphysmagicsupplies.com or by phone at (800) 853-7403.
Little Egypt Magic is the erratically updated web site of Steve Bryant, spawned (the site, not Steve) by a former internet magazine known as The Little Egypt Gazette/for magicians only.
Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from a computer in Bloomington, Indiana. He frequently journeys to and performs magic in Little Egypt, the local name for extreme southern Illinois, where the towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak.
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