Both Volumes of The Little Egypt Gazette are now available on CD for only $24. Click The Bookstore for ordering details.

A graduate course in sleight of hand.

"Ranch Bird" with an ordinary deck.

FROM RICHARD, WITH LOVE -- In the March issue of Genii, which went into the mail before Valentine's Day, David Ben has created a wonderful 36-page tribute to Ross Bertram. In addition to a splendid biography, Ben includes the finest trick section since the Michael Skinner issue. This material, with Stars of Magic-quality touches and routines from Bertram, could have easily been released as a book. We also note the nifty retro fifties' cover art. What a nice Valentine's Day gift. We keep saying this, but there has never been a better time to subscribe to Genii.

THE SKY IS FALLING -- Several years ago, when Chuck Romano's The Art of Deception appeared, it included a set of Sandra Kort drawings detailing a Ron Bauer trick called "The Hoppy." The trick appeared to be some sort of frog version of Don Alan's "Ranch Bird" and it intrigued me. (Readers who have been here since Volume 1 of The Gazette may be familiar with my own contribution to the genre.) My curiosity was satisfied by the arrival of Ron Bauer's "Chick Trick," his version of the Don Alan trick that comes with a manuscript in the usual "Private Studies" format and a wind-up metal chick (slightly gaffed for the trick) of the type you would see at a fancy toy import counter. (It does not include the motley bird that Don Alan used, but Ron Bauer does provide an interesting history of that particular bird.) The good news-bad news is that Ron Bauer provides a complete patter presentation but one so loaded with groaner-level puns that I "pity the fool" who uses them and even more pity his audience. The great news is that the trick itself is not the usual "Ranch Bird" method or effect (the one that uses gaffed cards). Ron has worked out a devilish new version in which the chick leads you to three selected cards, and this can be done with a complete normal deck. All the handling details are provided. (Use the puns at your own risk.) $24 from Ron Bauer or your favorite dealer.

February 2003

To all the girls I've loved before, especially all those in magic, I send you kisses. Valentine's Day greetings to all. February brings us a look at the latest from John Carney and Ron Bauer, a really special issue of Genii, and confirmation of happy news out of Las Vegas. Enjoy, and don't eat too much candy.

SHH, IT'S A SECRET -- A whole book of secrets, in fact. The long awaited John Carney tome, The Book of Secrets, is at last on hand and is all his fans had hoped it to be. Before addressing its contents, I should note that the book itself is a handsome piece of work. It's a 370-page hardback of the same dimensions as Carneycopia, sporting a red cloth cover with the word Secrets in gold. Chapter headings feature lovely vintage art, and the profuse technical illustrations are courtesy of Bill Taylor's camera. John Carney and Michael Albright share design credits for producing one of the nicest book layouts I've seen in a while. The book is subtitled "Lessons for Progressive Conjuring," and the contents are accordingly distributed into "lessons" rather than "chapters," with each lesson concluding (as any good text book would) with assignments for the student. John also sprinkles brief bios throughout the book of famous past magicians who have influenced him. Of the 23 titled lessons, 3 contain general advice and commentary and the remaining 20 are devoted to magic tricks and moves (though plenty of advice, commentary, and biography works its way into these "trick" lessons). John is both a classicist and a highly accomplished sleight-of-hand artist, as well as a stickler for detail. While much of this material is not easy, John is such a good teacher that he makes it at least seem accessible. As an example, a sleight that has eluded me over the years is the Prayer Cull. In a lesson in which John employs this sleight as a means for doing a multiple shift, he explains it far better than anyone has before him. (A sample sentence: The right fingers, however, are busy crawling under the spread like a spider on a treadmill, constantly walking forward while the hand itself remains stationary. Magnificent!) There are complete chapters on Palming and The Pass, and the classics covered include the likes of the "Cups and Balls," the "Linking Rings," "Coins to Glass," "Cards up the Sleeve" (with an astonishing visual feature), and the "Miser's Dream." For those seeking something completely novel, John offers a trick so old that it's new in "Verbeck's Envelopes," as well as his own "classic" "Astral Projection," in which he sends himself to Hawaii and back simply by spinning around (and predating David Copperfield's version by 20 years!). As to my personal interests in and hopes for this book, all my wishes were granted. I saw John lecture last year, and the lecture included his marvelous handling of the handkerchief pull. I can't think of any more magical way to cause something to disappear. It's in the book. And I've had a lifelong interest in "Rising Cards." John's "Ascension" lesson includes a grandly gaffed four-card routine and an almost ungaffed routine with a hat (including an ungaffed card shower!). All this and much more, for $55 pp only from the author. Click on John Carney in our Favorite Links.

PRODUCTION TRICK -- It's hard for this editor to think of Valentine's Day and magic in the same sentence and not think of Melinda, First Lady of Magic. Word was leaked recently that Melinda is expecting. I just spoke with the happy mom-to-be and confirmed that news. The big event is scheduled for September 1. (As an old New Yorker cartoon said, "Having a baby puts a cat in perspective." Let's see Siegfried and Roy top this.)

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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