Note ye ed's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Little Egypt Book of Numbers is now available from H&R Magic Books! See glowing self-serving review in the July 2004 issue.
TIME CAPSULE -- I love it when video does what it does best: captures our most esteemed performers and inventors in their primes. I landed on the Mount Olympus that is the Magic Castle in the late 60s, when gods roamed the place, when one of my favorites was Vernon's student Larry Jennings. Shortly thereafter employment moved me on to San Diego and Larry on to Lake Tahoe. There he teamed up on projects with young Louis Falanga, one fine result of which is the "new" dvd Larry Jennings/A Private Lesson. In Louis's living room, Larry performed and explained a dozen of his classics. The production values are sparse. Louis had not yet rounded up his stock company of spectators (most weren't born!), and yet the results are fine: clear and straightforward. It was a thrill to see "The Open Travellers" in Larry's hands again (he first took my breath away with it 35 years ago), Larry's complete explanation for "The Visitor," and Larry's wonderful "Chop Cup," with touches I failed to grasp back in 1965, when it first appeared in Genii. This dvd is an essential part of the Jennings canon. $30 from your favorite dealer.
POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE -- Ho! Ho! Ho! Larry Becker and Lee Earle have so many methods at play in "Postal!" that the spectators haven't a chance. A batch of postcards is fairly shuffled by the specs and dropped into an empty paper lunch bag. Any spec cuts a bunch of the cards off the top of the stack and pockets them. A second spec removes the card "cut to" by the first. You can immediately describe Spec Two's card, and you know how many Spec One pocketed. Spec One removes all but one of his cards from his pocket, and you describe the card remaining. All the cards are different, and the choices differ each time the effect is performed. You receive 36 high-quality postcards, one unprepared grocery bag, one worry-free gimmick, and the four pages of secrets -- a bunch of secrets -- that make it all happen. This is a feature effect, $49.95 from your favorite dealer.
TV MAGIC MOVES -- Mark Lewis, occasional internet forum provocateur, is the author of The Long and Short of It, subtitled "The Best Svengali Routine in Existence." Is it? I can't say, as I don't know all the others, but I can say that it (Mark's principal routine) is one heck of a routine that will probably thrill a lay audience more than most of the routines you now do. It looks like magic. This 38-page manuscript devotes seven pages to the main routine and the remainder to all the moves you'll need plus many others, along with more than a dozen complete tricks, handlings, and anecdotes. (Surprisingly, there is no pitch included, just great magic.) Dig that deck out of your drawer, run it through this book's paces, and rediscover what magic is supposed to look like. $22.50 from your favorite dealer.
Season's greetings. Ah, 2006: it was the worst of years, it was the best of years. On the home front, it was Four Funerals and a Wedding, and I'm low-balling the funerals. The year virtually wiped out a generation in Little Egypt, all folks dear to me. The scythe also cut a large path through magic, felling not only Channing and Billy and Tommy, but Castle favorites James G. Williams, Bob Busch, and Elizabeth Wilson as well. Enough, already! It was a wonderful year for watching live magic, with Milt Larsen's and Terry Hill's 50th anniversary edition of It's Magic! being one of the best assemblies of magicians I've ever enjoyed. Other favorite live performances included those of Lynn Trefzger, Mac King, Doc Eason, Tony Picasso, Woody Pittman, and Lee Asher. On television I loved AJ and Penny Wiggins in Amazing Johnathan/Wrong on Every Level plus youtube stuff by Simon Drake, a deck-switching master named Doc, and statue artist Jerome Murat. Finally, I bestow an It's Not What You Do But How You Do It award on Ursula Martinez for creative use of a thumb tip.
To this month's agenda: We look at a young Larry Jennings, postcard mentalism, a classic Svengali routine, mysterious math, and last-minute shopping tips. Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years to you in 2007.
CALCULATED TO PLEASE -- Although mathematical card tricks don't rate highly in sleight-of-hand circles, they are sometimes more baffling than "he palmed a card and stuck it in his wallet." It all depends on the cleverness of the item and the way it is sold. Recent Genii Forum discussions centered on a great Henry Christ effect in The Vernon Touch and on "Affinities" in The Vernon Chronicles, Volume II. I quickly noted in the latter that it is easy to nail the suit as well as the value of the card, and my lay friend Jim Held provided the analysis that reveals why the thing works. Continuing this mathematical thread, Martin Gardner offers "Gardner's Gambit" in issue 2 of Karl Fulves's Prolix, a clever 10-card deal that results in the magician fairly amassing a royal flush.
ON AND OFF THE AVENUE -- Okay, your loved ones have already bought you that necktie and power saw and, if you are really lucky, a new flat-screen LCD television set with Surround Sound, but know you won't be truly happy or continue to believe in Santa unless there is something under the tree that addresses your obsession with magic. Accordingly, I offer a few suggestions from the excellent items reviewed here this year. Those of you hinting for something small enough to fit into a stocking might mention an "Ultimate Marked Deck" (the deck is too clever; I've lost mine among its ungaffed brethren), Duvivier's "Deck that Shuffles Itself," or Gordon Bean's "Entourage." You of a literary bent should not enter the new year without cracking open a copy of Eric Mead's Tangled Web, Todd Karr's and Levent's Roy Benson by Starlight, Jim Steinmeyer's The Conjuring Anthology, the Professor's The Vernon Touch, or David Ben's Dai Vernon: A Biography. For the gift that keeps on giving, Genii is full of promise for 2007 with the announcement that Jim Steinmeyer is a new Associate Editor and that Eugene Burger and Harry Lorayne are new columnists (I think the multi-year deal that gives you One Hundred by Warlock for a song is still on the table). Spread the love around with a subscription to MAGIC as well, and don't forget a copy of Stan's new Magic Castle calendar. And if your sweetie wants to prove that she loves you all the way to the moon and back, let her know that a Losander Floating Table might be just the perfect key to your heart this December 25th. Of course, the likelihood of your receiving any of these items depends on just how naughty or nice you have been. (Naughty magicians, I suppose, deserve two copies of The Little Egypt Book of Numbers.)
STOCKING STUFFER -- And speaking of Numbers, let's conclude with the same sentiment as last year. While this may sound like crass commercialism, I assure you I get nothing out of it. Nevertheless, do yourselves and the boys in Texas a favor by sending H & R Magic Books an order for The Little Egypt Book of Numbers. Real miracles, sensibly priced. To quote my favorite reviewer, "There are items that should baffle anyone, items that get people wet, items that are sexy, items that are seriously frightening, one that will get you kissed, and one that might result in your mom washing your mouth out with soap." Even Scrooge considers it a deal at $35.
Peace on Earth, good will to men.
For The Long and Short of It, Larry Jennings/A Private Lesson, and "Postal!," dealers should contact Murphy's Magic Supplies on the web at www.murphysmagicsupplies.com or by phone at (916) 853-9292.
Sarah and Simon (Vixen and Spike to old Gazette readers) were married on April 1, 2006. You may access their wedding photos at wedding photos.
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 an iMac 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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Copyright© 2006 by Steve Bryant