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Little Egypt Magic has a new home.
Skip over lasst month's phantom January issue to our December issue containing my review of Ryan Matney's Spoiler Alert, news re our house move, and Magic Castle tributes to Larry Jennings.
Happy Valentine's Day! Love to all.
Meanwhile, what the heck happened to January? As mentioned in December, Maleficent and I decided to move, for the first time in over 30 years, to a cavernous condo closer to the grandkids. (Just a few blocks.) The move happened in January, smack in the middle of Magi-fest week. Ugh! Didn't want it to happen that way, but our old house sold in an hour, and suddenly things were rolling. A detailed report follows.
There was virtually no time for magic these past few weeks, but I did sneak enough time to read a new book by the amazing Lewis Jones. Check the review below.
Sifting through my magic junk I came across the hand-drawn ad at the bottom, for a swap meet. It was my first attempt at "dealer speak." (The title of that first book, by the way, was tongue in cheek, as it would be today. I am an authority on nothing.)
Very sorry to hear that Barnes and Noble is laying off employees. They have been very nice to my novels the past two years, and I love hanging out in their stores. Do the world a favor and buy a real book from a real bookstore.
TAKING INVENTORY -- Moving is arduous. It requires you to lay hands on everything you own, every book, every DVD, every magic trick, your rock and roll 45s, etc. So many memories, so much quality. Some you purge, some you take along for the ride. Most of my magic books are still in boxes, awaiting some Amish guys in Ohio to build me some bookcases large enough to house them. Books from "real life" have survived the move and are back in play.
Let's catalog. In the living room, three shelves support books by and about favorite New Yorker writers: Thurber, White, Roger Angell, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, E.J. Kahn (a great Dunninger profile), Herbert Warren Wind, Donald Barthelme, Peter Devries, S.J. Perelman, and J.D. Salinger, among others. Other shelves support J.K. Rowling, William Kennedy (every card magi should read Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, possibly my favorite novel), F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bobby Ann Mason (her stories take place a stone's throw from Little Egypt), Muriel Spark, Eudora Welty, Edna St. Vincent Millay (thanks to Eugene for directing me to her), Judith Viorst, Steve Martin, and John Le Carre.
Best prose ever.
The office where I am typing adds more Fitzgerald (Scott plus, unrelated, Penelope), Neil Gaiman, Alfred Bester (The Demolished Man is my favorite sci-fi novel), Dashiell Hammett, Ray Bradbury, Bob Dylan, Jean Shepherd, Robert A. Heinlein, Stanley and Tripp (Little Lulu), and Charles Addams.
Upstairs in the entertainment loft we find, along with Larry McMurtry (a John Moehring favorite), Martin Gardner, and Douglas Hofstadter, the coffee table books: mostly New Yorker cartoon and Disney collections.
And the bedroom: here is my rather complete P.G. Wodehouse collection along with a hodgepodge of gifts rom Urchin and Vixen. At the bedside: Pope's "Rape of the Lock," Bradbury's From the Dust Returned, Nabokov's Ada, Perovich's The Vernon Companion, and all three Caveney books of letters. Current reading? Delightful surprises in the latest astronomy book from Mac King's pal, Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
What are you reading?
SYSTEMATIC CARD MAGIC -- Although I admire his moves and his individual card tricks, my favorite contributions from Lewis Jones are his systems, approaches that allow you to extract or convey considerable information from a sequence of cards. This admiration goes way back, to Lewis's telephone telepathy book in which four cards transmit a drawing of anything in the universe. (I might look up some more details about this, but that book is in a random cardboard box in my soon-to-be magic library room.)
The latest such offerings (moves, tricks, and systems!) are to be found in As If By Magic, a fresh new collection from the ever youthful Mr. Jones.
New magic from an old hand.
One doesn't have to dig very deep to find something special.
Ding Dong is a method for easily remembering a series of random playing cards, using a new-to-me system of aural mnemonics. You don't need to pre-memorize a stack of cards if you can create the mnemonic on the spot. Most useful.
Mountebank uses a simple method for forcing a random set of cards, each remembered instantly via the Ding Dong approach. You come off as quite the mind reader.
Following Suit struck me as the cleverest item in the book. Three speks select a card from a set of four, all different suits. Each then notes his card and changes the value to something else, in his mind. Magi identifies all three cards and has predicted that all would reject the fourth card, the seven of spades. Uses the Tossed Out Deck principle in a cool way I've never seen.
Memory Deck is one of my favorite Lewis Jones creations, first encountered in Seventh Heaven. It is reprised here, an ideal system for allowing you to know which card lies at a named position, no memory required and very easy to do. (Note that it doesn't do the opposite; if someone names a card, you don't know where it lies. But if they name, say, position 38, you know that it is the jack of diamonds.) Although the system is fine for any position, it is perfect for even-numbered positions, and therefore ideal for a bizarre memory stunt that Michael Weber taught at the recent Genii convention.
Thank Your Lucky Stars is a new "compatible couples" effect using the Memory Deck. If you haven't actually used Memory Deck before, this may inspire you to do so.
Birthday Squared is incredible. How does Lewis, or anyone, keep coming us with such stuff? This is a 4 by 4 magic square based on a spek's birthdate. If his birthday is, say, March 9, 1969, then the four element values will be 3, 9, 19, and 69. These can be entered at first, and the remaining numbers filled in, or at the end (if you secretly knew the birthday), and they can go into the center four blocks, any column, or any diagonal, and even scrambled, and so on. There is virtually no calculation and no memorization involved. Lewis provides the easy instructions, and you merrily fill out the values to the usual magic square result. Easy to do.
As If By Magic contains 20 items in 125 pages, photo illustrated, in the same softcover format as recent Lewis Jones publications, available soon from H&R Magic Books, $35. Recommended highly, the best of Lewis's recent pubs.
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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 used to frequently journey to and perform 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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