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TWO books in play for Christmas shopping.
Last month's October issue highlighted the grand opening of McGrave's Hotel, the publication of Milt Larsen's 60-year celebration It's Magic! book, a Halloween eulogy for MAGIC magazine, and a resurrected, bound Talisman. All in glorious black and white.
I haven't felt this low in a long time. Deaths in the family rank up there, of course, and we even had another on November 8, a cousin. But death happens, you accept it. It's hard to accept the actions of people whose lives are so predicated on hate that they will act and vote against their own interests just to be mean to someone else. Of course there is big money in hate media and hate politics, and so there is plenty of hate being spread around. I just thought, when I was younger, that people would grow out of it, become smarter, nicer. I stand corrected.
As to magic, I am highlighting an oldie but a goodie, The Little Egypt Book of Numbers, still available from H&R Magic Books. Give it a look if you don't already have it. There is some fun stuff in the book. As Harry Anderson said when I showed him the 21-card routine, "That took my breath away." Important: H&R is offering the book for $5 off (or $30) through November.
Add to this the new monthly magazine (and more) from The Jerx's Andy, a slow-motion ace assembly that may have escaped your notice, and begin your Christmas shopping today with orders for McGrave's Hotel. Your room is ready! (Ghost show fans can also still acquire mint copies of Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show.)
THE LITTLE EGYPT BOOK OF KILLER BAR MAGIC -- Although John Lennon's line "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" isn't original with him, it's true in spades. My "other plans" as a magical performer included a life doing close-up magic as a regular at the Magic Castle (didn't happen despite early geographical success) and a life with significant stage success operating a midnight ghost show (my loftiest goal was to close the second half of a Milt Larsen It's Magic! with my own ghost show; uh, didn't happen).
So what did happen? Regarding ghost shows, I had a family and wound up doing elaborate ghost show-style family Halloween parties for many years. As these were in my home, I became more David Abbott than David Copperfield. When the kids outgrew such parties, I transferred the show to an adult venue, my childhood buddy's bar in Little Egypt, and we did another decade or so of shows. Screams all around, great fun. I wrote it all up in the sold-out book from H&R Magic Books, The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts. I also addressed midnight ghost shows in my middle-grade novel from Month9Books, Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show. Highly recommended reading!
As to card tricks and such, I essentially became the house close-up magician in that same river town bar for 25 years or so, visiting every other weekend, presenting fast, simple, hard-hitting Chicago-style bar magic to a motley crew of regulars and to strangers who drifted in off the river. (I didn't completely miss out on the Magic Castle experience. I used to perform guest nights when I was very young and living in Pasadena, and I later performed a couple of full-week stints in the Close-up Gallery. I also of course enjoyed witnessing the magic in the Castle's golden age, the time covered so beautifully in Michael Perovich's The Vernon Companion.)
Getting back to my own work, I wrote up the original presentations in another H&R book, The Little Egypt Book of Numbers. It turned out to be an unfortunate title, as some figured that it was a book of mathematical card tricks. Rather, it was a book of tricks that contained a number in each title (Catch-22, Motel 666, etc.), originally for an internet column I was writing for Joe Stevens, but that too failed to attract readers to its contents. Therefore -- and this is the point of all this rambling -- I hereby re-title the book The Little Egypt Book of Killer Bar Magic, for that is what it is, the best of the stuff I performed in a river town bar for close to three decades. No, we aren't going to print new dust covers or try to persuade you that this is a new and different book, but I do want you to be aware that some really fine magic is available, magic that you will do and have fun doing.
WHAT THE REVIEWERS SAID ABOUT IT -- The parlor/stand-up routines include Chandu the Mindreader Plays Five-Card Draw (a variant of Histed's The Miracle Divination), Eight-Card Brainwave Goes to Paris (a presentation for the Wrist Chopper), Patter for Sawing a Naked Lady in Two (the title says it all), Cheaper by the Dozen (a slimmed-down version of Mullica's Card in Apple), and Double Double Toil and Trouble (a great trick for Halloween in which a card is found in a bucket of swamp water).
My favorite routines in the book are ones designed for performance in a bar. 20,000 Leagues Under the Suds is a card rise with the deck submerged in a glass of beer. Love Potion Number 9 is a funny handling of the ever-popular Card to Fly. (This routine has a kicker that is well worth the trouble to construct the required prop.) Sixty-Second Card Reading is an easy system for doing fortune telling with playing cards. Duffie Deep-Sixed is a memorable three-card transposition effect. (Magic bartenders should take note of this trick.) The World's Most Obscene 21-Card Trick is a funny presentation for this old war-horse that should get screams of laughter from the appropriate crowd.
... The magic market-place is top heavy with books and DVDs that focus on methodological variations. We seldom encounter products that feature interesting presentations. The Little Egypt Book of Numbers fits the bill nicely, and is a resource that should trigger your own creative explorations.
-- Michael Close, "Market Place," MAGIC (October 2004)
Steve Bryant is selling, for the modest sum of $35, something seldom put forth in much more expensive tomes, or included with the pricey props that are appearing on the magic scene. Steve Bryant is offering directions on how to actually do the tricks he's discussing. This almost never happens.
... but another part of the secret is the manner in which one might use the hidden techniques to possibly entertain an audience. This book is loaded with creative routines that are bewildering, shocking, astounding, and/or humorous.
... Though many of these effects are ostensibly crafted for "special situations," such as bars, some would not only be wonderful effects in a professional's act, but could very well turn out to be the tricks people talk about. For example, one trick involves a card rising from a glass of beer, and another features a card revelation that will, without a doubt, make an audience scream (not with approval, but with terror). There is a lovely routine with "The Haunted Deck," a fortune telling system that is exceptionally well thought out, a mentalism effect with cards based on the Histed/Fox approach that could be a closer, and a trick for rowdy crowds that is sure to be remembered due to magical employment of an obscenity. I enjoyed reading this book, and appreciated the thought that went into the methods chosen and the presentations. If, in a book, you are looking for routines that will fool people and entertain them, whether it's an effect with built-in humor or one that will leave them purley amazed, this is a book for you.
-- David Regal, "Light from the Lamp," Genii (December 2004)
WHAT THE PUBLISHER IS SAYING ABOUT IT -- Steve Bryant's latest book is a collection of routines created primarily for his performance in the nightspots of the "Little Egypt" section of Southern Illinois, where towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes and Karnak. To play in these challenging venues, the routines must be quick, direct and easy to follow. Most involve off-beat presentations guaranteed to be remembered. None use difficult sleight of hand, relying more on presentational nuances and subtle touches.
You don't see many tricks with a Super Soaker.
As for the tricks themselves, all but one - a version of Milt Kort's Coins Through Table - are card tricks. But these aren't just your Uncle Ed's card routines. They include a dark version of Spectator Cuts the Aces, Card to Zipper that makes hilarious use of a "Looong Card," an eerie card rise, a card transposition using beer (or drink of your choice), a Haunted Pack routine involving a Houdini Seance, several card to impossible locations including one to a belly button ring, a profane (and deceptive) version of the 21 Card Trick, a version of Everywhere and Nowhere using celebrities, and a routine in which a selected card is found in an apple (using a Super Soaker - you don't see many tricks like that!), and much, much more. Please do not purchase this book if you are easily offended by adult themes and language.
WHAT THE AUTHOR IS SAYING ABOUT IT -- It would be unfair to suggest that all the items in the book became standards in my repertoire. One of them, a mini-play, I have never performed, and yet it is one of my favorites. One of these days I'll work out the logistics of bisecting my naked assistant while surrounded in a Little Egypt saloon. On the other hand, I have a library full of wonderful books, by all the usual cast of Vernon and Marlo and Elmsley and Hamman and Lovell and Lorayne and so on. Despite this, I can honestly say that I routinely perform more items from The Little Egypt Book of Numbers than from any of these books. 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.
As I stated in the Introduction, "I want the audiences to feel they are witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event, perhaps something untried and dangerous, or something outlandishly spontaneous and funny, or (gasp!) something real." If you would like to share such experiences with your audiences, or if you would simply like to learn the most f***ing amazing card trick you have ever encountered (sorry, but there is no other way to describe it!), send H&R Magic Books an order ($35 plus 10% for shipping). Richard and Charlie (oops, now Marshall) just love to sell retail! I am not selling the book through Little Egypt Magic. Please order directly from H&R. For mature (or seriously immature) readers only.
-- Steve Bryant (shameless self-promoter), Little Egypt Magic (July 2004)
That's it: Order The Little Egypt Book of Killer Bar Magic today. Just don't be surprised if it comes disguised as a book about numbers.
P.S. Marshall tells me that he occasionally advises customers to buy it when they are seeking something new, and that they thank him after reading it. I hope you get to thank him too.
Again, please note that The Little Egypt Book of Numbers is only $30 through November. Directly from H&R Magic Books.
JOIN THE CIRCLE -- For those of you who enjoyed The Jerx, the mysterious Andy's fascinating and often profane New York magic blog (funded last year by a $260 book), he is offering a Season 2 if he can raise the remaining 10 percent of his funding goal. The deal this year, for $10 a month, gets you this:
The continued blog (open to all) at three posts a week.
The Jerx Deck, a special deck of cards.
The Jerx Monthly: a monthly pdf magazine running to 240 pages total. Rather than styling it like Genii or MAGIC, Andy plans to style it like an old magazine called Secrets. Woo woo.
Hugard's never looked like this.
Priority email responses.
The thing begins when (and if) the funding goal is reached. I'm in. Just to check out the monthly covers! (Go to The Jerx for details.)
MOLASSES -- Last month, to illustrate Jules Lenier's Talisman, I selected a trick at random, Horace Bennett's Jacks in Flight. I have since worked through Mr. Bennett's trick and must say it is quite wonderful. The basic effect begins as you show four cards to be: all nines, all tens, and, slowly and individually, all jacks. You then lay the jacks in a square and perform a slow-motion ace (jack) assembly with them. It sounds standard but in fact employs none of the usual moves. There is no palming, no Vernon transfer, no Elmsley counts. Rather, Bennett makes subtle use of buckle counts and camouflage. If you have the book, check it out. If not, this is one of the many reasons to acquire it.
Yes, we ran this image last month.
GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE -- Or should I say Ghosts of Christmas Impending? I am pleased to have two middle-grade novels available for your Christmas shopping pleasure this year. Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show follows a troupe of ghost show performers (who themselves are, secretly, ghosts) about the country. McGrave's Hotel follows a young bellhop through a troubled night in a haunted hotel, 1936, with a surprising new sidekick/love interest: Death's daughter. Hard to say which I like best. Each is special and full of inside delights for savvy magicians. Stuff your stocking with both!
Two books on my Amazon author page.
Happiness is a spread of spooky books.
McGrave's Hotel is open for business. It's the companion adventure to Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show.
Congratulations, Bob Dylan.
Congratulations, Chicago Cubs.
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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