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In case you missed it, check out last month's annual Christmas issue. Among other news, we enjoyed Michael Perovich's A Vernon Companion, The Skinner Tapes, a Paul Fox bio from David Ben, Eugene Burger as the Grinch (who else?), and video with Lisa Cousins.
It's tricky to post a "January" installment when everyone expects the best of January to take place at the end, namely at Magifest. We've come to expect a lot from Josh and Andi, and this year is no exception. I hope to see many of you there.
Nevertheless, ignoring a discouraging birthday, January has proven to be pretty nice so far, with the long-awaited fifth volume of the Nick Trost series, with my discovery of a new magic shop fifteen miles away, with some great video from Amazing Johnathan, and with a lot of stuff from Joshua Jay, including his New Year's Day appearance on "Today," his ginormous kid book (I finally obtained a copy), and some killer material that he contributed to his February Genii cover issue. I look forward to his new videos.
Re last month, I completed reading A Vernon Companion, and it's even more wonderful than my first impression, and I am enjoying the heck out of The Skinner Tapes.
HIGH FIVE -- The prodigious card trick legacy of Nick Trost, projected to run to nine volumes, continues with its fifth: Nick Trost's Subtle Card Creations Volume 5. By the numbers, Volume 5 extends the work from page 1133 through 1349, with over 100 new tricks and twelve new chapters. Their titles reveal more of the familiar themes: Select Card Effects, Coincidence or What?, Royal Roundup, Poker Tricks and Deals, More Divinations, Tricks with Aces, Gilbreath Plays Poker Part 2, Still Further Gambling Tricks, Further Predictions, Further Revealments, ESP Cards Part 5, and More Pinochle Puzzlers.
More subtle mysteries.
A few highlights:
Although I don't normally like surprise plot twists, Blackjacked!'s straightforward climax and devious method (an old favorite) won me over. It begins as Daley's Last Card Trick, then finishes with the supposed black aces becoming a black blackjack hand and the red aces a red blackjack hand.
With Out of This World--Another Handling, the spek shuffles the deck and deals the cards, to the familiar result.
Although I didn't particularly like the effect Mystic Jacks, it contains a description of Tom Hubbard's work on the Criss-Cross Force. I was at a small Magifest session when I first saw Tom Craven demonstrate this, and Nick Trost was there as well. Perhaps this is where Nick first saw it? Whatever, it's a terrific enhancement.
I love Nu-Wave Intuition Poker, in which the spek selects five cards from a deck he shuffled. He discards one (a low heart, say), then select another which proves to be the perfect card to complete a straight flush. Did I mention that the deck was shuffled? And as usual, Nick's patter covers the necessary selection processes.
Revolving Poker exploits a Karl Fulves method that allows the spek and magi to alternately select cards from twenty cards, ten each faced to each other. This one fools me whenever I do it. There is also a Revolving Blackjack trick in the book, but I like the poker version better.
Christ Meets Gilbreath allows the magi to predict a card that will fall at a mathematically derived spot (my previous fav version of this required me to inspect the deck first) from a spek shuffled deck. (Note: Nick uses a pair of jokers and predicts a joker. It's pretty easy to modify the trick to predict, say, a red nine from a shuffled deck handed to you. And the spek gets to shuffle again before the procedure begins.)
Synchronicity Revisited is a great boy-girl effect to do for a couple. Nick used a joker. I would use a queen of hearts and write, "If love is at work the number 6 will be special to both of you."
Ten-Card Poker Idea: this is a completely new method to me for the ten-card poker deal, and I like it. Wonder if it or any like it will be in the new Farmer book.
There are a couple of fine methods for either producing the aces or turning jokers into aces, namely Ace-Predicti and The Jokers Are Wild. Either would make a nice intro to produce the aces before doing a stronger ace routine.
There are three killer tricks for demonstrating that you can distinguish face up from face down cards beneath the table or psychically, including Scarne's $1000 Card Trick, Laying on the Hand, and A Hummer Routine. These feel like the real thing.
I hope that's enough to whet your appetite. I noticed throughout the book that Nick occasionally used methods familiar to me as a boy to new and stronger results, giving those routines a nostalgic appeal. The book features a foreword by Aldo Colombini and a brief Introduction by Nick Trost. Hard cover, dust jacket, nicely illustrated by Tony Dunn, in the usual H&R Magic Books/Trost series format. From H&R Magic Books, $50. Bring on Volume 6!
RETRO -- Thanks to a recent visit to an upscale toy store, I finally laid eyes and hands on Joshua Jay's supersized introductory magic course in a book, Big Magic for Little Hands. This is the ideal gift for the kid in your house or for the kid in you. With its arresting visuals and exciting content, this is more than just a magic book: it's a book of dreams.
As much fun as a Mysto Magic set.
From the sheer scale of the book (it's nearly 11 by 14 inches), a child's eyes should widen even before he delves into its secrets. The design is strikingly retro, in red, black, and white, illustrated with step by step cartoon sequences that reveal every necessary detail. I was reminded of one of my own childhood magic books, Magic For All by Bob Dunn, also explained by cartoons, also with single page histories of famous magicians. You can look at the drawings and imagine yourself performing the illusions.
Who wouldn't want to perform this?
And the material! Promises are made ("Levitate Your Brother." "Scare the Pants Off Your Parents."), promises are kept. Among the book's 25 effects (Josh eschews the term "tricks") there are no card tricks. Instead, there are some five full-scale stage illusions, a bounty of parlor material, some mental (a Christmas effect from Josh and Raj Madhok appeared in MAGIC), and some closeup. Josh remembers being a kid and knows well what is exciting and what the kid needs to know. The nostalgia factor for me continued with tricks that required props made from cardboard, such as a Breakaway Box made from cereal cartons. I used to do that for shows around age ten.
Josh freaks Kathie Lee, Hoda, and the kids.
I suspect kids will strongly connect with this magic book. It addresses their imaginations in ways I haven't seen in a long time and makes me want to be a kid again. Hardbound from Workman Publishing Company, 100 pages, beautiful endpapers, written by Josh Jay, designed by Netta Rabin, illustrations by Kyle Hilton, a steal at $19.95. Available from Vanishing, Inc. and fine stores everywhere. (Note: Please don't write me if the book doesn't contain a method for producing a live mouse from a Play-Doh can.)
BRICK AND MORTAR AND MORE -- A delightful surprise on the Genii forum recently was the announcement of a new brick and mortar magic shop in nearby Nashville, Indiana. The shop is Rich Hill's Magic and Fun Emporium, and it's tucked away in Antique Alley of this quaint tourist village, like something out of fairy land. Open since October, its stock is modest so far, but solid. You can buy a set of Linking Rings, a magic coloring book, or a milk pitcher complete with a copy of Hen Fetch's Milk Pitcher Magic. There was a time when those items were the highlight of my magical experience, and I envy young visitors to the shop who may walk away with the same treasures.
Rich Hill's Magic and Fun Emporium.
Even better, for the more experienced shopper, is the stuff Rich Hill himself creates. Rich is a fifteen-year veteran illusion builder whose wares have been showcased on "America's Got Talent," Disney's Mickey's Magic Show, and "The Late Show with David Letterman." As a visit to his illusion web site reveals, you can buy anything from a Crystal Casket (girl not included) down to a gorgeous set of ebony Jumping Gems (that I am currently drooling over). Check out the magic shop web site for hours and plan a visit to Nashville. I recommend the magic shop, another business called The Toy Chest (often something magic-related there), and the Hobnob Corner Restaurant for lunch. You will thank me.
IT'S A WRAP -- In his introduction "preface to a life" to My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber wrote, "It is unfortunate, however, that even a well-ordered life cannot lead anybody safely around the inevitable doom that waits in the skies. As F. Hopkinson Smith long ago pointed out, the claw of the sea-puss gets us all in the end." For the past year or more, faced with that impending circumstance, Amazing Johnathan has performed a farewell tour, has performed final shows at the Magic Castle, got married!, and has recorded more episodes of his wonderful talk show, burnunit.tv. I've never seen anyone face his odds with more courage and more good humor. The most recent talk shows were his Final Episode Parts 1 and 2, bringing the total to 50. Check in with AJ as he checks out with the friends who have been part of his show and his life. Even near the end, no one gets more laughs per minute.
Sophie Evans, Ariann Black, Anastasia Synn (Mrs. AJ), AJ, Lynetta Welch, Bruce Block, Penny Wiggins (Psychic Tanya).
Awesome Christmas gift.
Seventy is the new fifty.
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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