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What might happen if you try Nick Trost's poker deals.

In case you missed it, check out last month's special Christmas and Happy Birthday issue on the Magic Castle's 50th birthday, among other topics.

January 2013

Happy 2013 to one and all.

This month, just a few weeks until the reborn Magi-fest in Columbus, Ohio, we consider three books that lay under my tree on Christmas morning along with a delayed interview from the Essential Magic Conference 2012. The books in question are Nick Trost's Subtle Card Creations Volume 4 (OK, that one wasn't quite under the tree), Roberto Giobbi's Confidences, and Florian Severin's What Lies Inside.

A bit of an announcement. My New Year's Resolution last year was to spend less time on magic. I failed miserably and therefore had a great year. This year, the matter is more out of my hands: I have contracted to do some writing outside the field of magic and must therefore devote more time to that project. Accordingly, although I don't intend to abandon this sheet, I intend to be far less wordy, beginning next month. I appreciate everyone who has commented favorably to this point and beg your indulgence as I try to morph Little Egypt Magic into a leaner experience. Meanwhile, as you can see, I ain't done nothing yet, so read on, and I hope to see you all in Columbus.

TROST CHAPTER FOUR --For Nick Trost fans, Christmas continues: Nick Trost's Subtle Card Creations Volume 4 will appear only a few weeks into the new year. In the same elegant style (vintage decorative art, Tony Dunn explanatory art, inspirational epigraphs) and same elegant prose, here are a dozen more chapters extending the Trost legacy. Specifically, add Gemini Twins Effects, More Royal Marriages, Gilbreath Plays Poker Part 1, More Revealments, Spelling Tricks, Tricks with Two Decks, Cards and Dice, Special Decks Part 3, Packet Tricks Part 4, Special-Deck Gambling Effects, ESP Cards Part 4, and Special Props.

From National Magic Co. Catalog No. 7, 1947.

Any of the Gilbreath-Poker routines should kill, virtually all allowing a genuine spectator riffle shuffle before the devastating hands are dealt. Trost Poker Demo is (at least) a strong double duke deal that invokes supplied poker lingo. In You Do As I Do Poker Deal the spec shuffles half the deck, deals himself four of a kind, and then lets you deal yourself a royal from the same shuffled half. In Crooked and Straight Dealing, the spec shuffles and deals off the top or bottom to no reward, then lets the magi deal everyone office hours (9 to 5 straights) and himself a royal flush.

Re more gambling, the Special-Deck effects allows the magi to demo his prowess at euchre, bridge, blackjack, fan tan, hearts, and Kaluki! For the right audience, you can look like the best-informed gambler on the planet.

The first Multiple Deck trick I saw, similar to Scarne's in Stars of Magic, was done on TV by Jay Ose, and I've always had a soft spot for them. Trost's Triple Coincidence II and III are very nice additions to the arsenal. Of the variants I am most likely to perform first, I like Update on Eddie Joseph: any card is reversed in a red deck and left in position. Pairs of cards from the red deck and a companion blue deck are now dealt off the top, and none match. Until ... the reversed card is reached, and the blue card at that position is an exact match.

The Revealments chapter contains Cabalistic Countdown, which exploits one of my favorite math principles, and an easy version of Diamond Cut Diamond. My favorite was Pseudo Princess, in which Trost gets into the Princess card trick genre by starting out with a Si Stebbins stack. I explored Princess variations in The Little Egypt Book of Numbers and have always admired what the strategy offers. This is a nifty addition to the methodology.

For those of you who enjoy Steinmeyer's Nine-Card Trick, Trost's Eight-Card Lie Speller provides a very sneaky way of getting the selection into position to begin the trick as you apparently "program" the packet based on spectator answers. You never know where the selected card begins, but the process sets it for the usual killer finale.

Of course, some of Trost's most famous routines involve specially printed cards or props. I owned a Pizza Poker disk when I was younger and didn't even realize it was a Nick Trost creation. The current book includes a full chapter of special decks (there is even a specially printed version of Stewart James's Further Than That) and another of packet tricks. As I have written elsewhere, Jon Racherbaumer once buckled my knees with a squeaky clean version of Twisting the Aces. I had no idea that Jon could be so underhanded as to use gaffed cards, but he did, a Trost invention. That trick is in this book.

Nick Trost left behind a wealth of easy to do card magic, and it is a pleasure to watch this legacy unfold. This is the fourth of what could potentially run to nine volumes, and I may have to set up a little database to keep track of favorite routines. I have enjoyed fooling people with this material and look forward to many more such occasions. As usual, the book is from H&R Magic Books, edited by Charlie Randall, taking us from page 581 to page 862 in the series, not counting the frontal matter that includes a foreword by Roy Walton and a brief introduction from Nick Trost, $50 ($44 through January 31). Highly recommended.

BEDSIDE SECRETS -- Roberto Giobbi's Confidences begins with a lovely conceit. Opposite a complex Gustavo Otero full-color drawing of a joker, created from a single line, is a winding one-page Preface by Roberto, created from a single sentence. It's an example of the intelligent playfulness that characterized Secret Agenda and which defines much of Roberto's material. This new book from Hermetic Press is physically a companion to Eric Mead's Tangled Web (5 1/4 by 7 1/4 inches, same end papers, same ribbon bookmark), with its content rising to the same high standard set by Secret Agenda. As with that book, Confidences makes ideal bedside reading.

Roberto Giobbi's latest thoughts.

Among its eleven titled items are a mix of essays and tricks, the essays themselves containing numerous tricks and moves, and the tricks themselves containing essay-length ruminations. In most cases, subtlety reigns over skill, and some of the best material is practically self working.

To mention a few ...

The Deck of Missed Opportunities is a cool takeoff on the Fred trick in which the card is named aloud rather than slipped from the deck.

Thoughts on Controls breaks the very idea of a card control into seven steps. In the process of discussing the steps, Roberto provides numerous practical controls.

Overture for Cups and Balls is an opening sequence, after which Roberto has the wisdom to not try to improve on the Vernon routine.

On Erdnase is a 48-page essay detailing Roberto's recommendations on what not to overlook in Erdnase. Erdnase fans should love this.

The Card in the Mirror of the Mind is a card trick in which the reflection of a card is transported into a wallet.

Seven is a self-working revelation and so far is my favorite card trick of 2013. I know, it's only been a few days, but still, this is very nice. My engineer friends were baffled.

What can I say? If you loved Secret Agenda, you will love Confidences. It's a smaller book physically, but its essays delve deeply into their subjects, and you will be enriched by time spent with them. From Hermetic Press, edited by Stephen Minch, illustrated with numerous photos by Barbara Giobbi-Ebnother, 274 pp, $47.

I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING -- The surprise hit in my pile of Christmas magic books was What Lies Inside, by German mentalist Florian Severin and produced by Vanishing, Inc. What Lies Inside is an updated and rewritten-in-English version of 13 Steps to Vandalism, published in German in 2004. Quite simply, this is one of the most original books on mentalism I've read in quite a while. Not so much in methods -- there are the usual techniques of force books and nail writers and add-a-number pads, all cleverly applied -- but in presentations. Also, similarly to Roberto Giobbi's new book, there is a mix of essays and tricks, the essays containing tricks and the tricks, in particular, containing lengthy essays. Florian thinks a lot about what he does.

The look of modern mentalism.

Of the essays, I especially enjoyed I Know What You Did Before the Last Show (on pre-show work) and Size Does Matter. Of the tricks, Josh and Andi point out in their foreword that Florian's background is in film, and this shows in the visual nature of the material. Consider ...

Imagination Is a Lemon is a demonstration of how suggestible an audience can be, during which a knife used to cut a lemon turns out to have been a fork all along, and the lemon to have been a wadded up sheet of yellow paper.

In Fly Into Your Head the mentalist unzips a hole in his head and extracts two billets!

Now, if I carefully unzip this hole in my head ...

In Psycho, a female spectator chases Norman Bates to his lair. (I invite readers to compare this to David Regal Goes Psycho in The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts. Very different tricks but similar subject matter.)

In The Time Traveler's Wife the mentalist returns from the future and proves to have had a fling with a spectator via evidence on a beer coaster.

In The Fenwick Experience, the mentalist suffers a Near Death Experience after wrapping his head in Saran wrap and dying on an operating table in order to escape his body and witnessing something he couldn't have otherwise.

In Avada Kedavra, the mentalist and a female spectator conspire to murder a meter maid who then vanishes from a photograph and disappears from the city's roster.

Get the idea? I must also say, especially given that this is a book about mentalism, that the book is just plain fun to read. In addition to the essays that expand each trick, there is a lengthy Post Script section of comments and a lengthy Bookshop section. The latter proves Florian to be up to date on the latest in mentalism as well as in general literature. The epigraphs that open most chapters are from such unlikely sources as the Gilmore Girls, Futurama, Norman Bates, the Wizard of Oz, J.K. Rowling, Marilyn Manson, Minority Report, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and Lestat, among others. There is lovely advice such as you should see Hard Candy with the whole family, and the book is dedicated to that dead-on soccer prophet, Paul the Octopus. This is not exactly your Bob Nelson book of mentalism.

The book is handsomely laid out and beautifully illustrated (designed by Andi Gladwin, illustrated by the author) and is typical of the first-rate stuff that Vanishing, Inc. has been putting out lately (and they have been putting out a lot lately). Hardbound, edited by Raj Madhok and others, introduction by Ken Weber, 342 pages with a ribbon bookmark, $45.

PROMISE KEPT -- For those of us who enjoyed Essential Magic Conference 2012 this summer, one of the bits that didn't quite come off as planned was Guy Hollingworth interviewing Derren Brown in London via Skype. The connection was a tad glitchy, so, given that both Guy and Derren live in London, it was promised that Guy would interview Derren later and the interview would be available on the DVDs. This has come to pass as promised.

Derren and Guy talk things over.

I almost missed it. I finally unwrapped my DVDs and began watching the interview, but it was the original (the Skype with all the glitches). I nearly turned it off, but fortunately turned aside to work on something else, and soon the thing segued into the new, crystal clear interview with Guy and Derren sitting together for a very nice chat. Derren was both candid, including tipping the details of his early salaries, and contemplative. I enjoyed his expanding on his observation that talent plus energy equals success, that success plus attitude can make you a star.

As always, Luis de Matos does everything first rate, and it was a joy to finally receive and view this interview. The entire eight-DVD set that was EMC 2012 is still available from your favorite dealer (such as H&R Magic Books) for $150.



And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak' a right gud-wellie waught,
For auld lang syne.

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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