Note ye ed's email address:

View from living room, first day of spring.

Return to our February issue for a look at my lay book collection and Lewis Jones's As if by Magic.

March 2018

It's spring, you say? Hard to believe it as I gaze at the snow out my new living room window.

Moving from one home to another continues to savage my time, leaving little room for magic. Still, I managed to slip in a couple of Vanishing Inc. downloads, for a horror mag to stir up my interest in the new Andy Nyman movie, and to spend five minutes communing with ghosts.

One of the perks of having to move every single thing you own is discovering old treasures. I love the cardboard box in which Al Baker's Mental Magic arrived, especially that eight-cent postage. See photo below. Keen, eh?

MARLO OUT WEST -- As I wrote in the April 2003 issue, re publication of the hardback Revolutionary Card Technique, Ed Marlo somewhat eluded me in my youth, both his work and his personal appearances: "I must confess to have always found Marlo heavy going. When I dip into his world, and especially his Revolutionary Card Technique series, it is as though I have stepped into a fourth dimension where wonderful card sleights abound but which are different from anything I've encounted elsewhere and perhaps even out of range. (My range, that is. I had the great pleasure of seeing Ed Marlo do this stuff at a Desert Magic Seminar.) I spent my card magic adolescence with Harry Lorayne and Steranko and Vernon, always aware of Marlo but never quite in tune with him. I rather like it that way, knowing that there is this incredible world of card magic available to me if I only choose to look around the corner and accept it. Those of you new to Marlo should check out the article 'Revolutionary Card Technique Redux' in the May 2003 issue of Genii, by Chris Marshall (Jay's grandson). Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Getting into palm position, ninth method: 'Similar to the 8th Method except here the thumb and 2nd finger, which grasp the sides of the originally palmed cards ...' You can't make this stuff up."

Marlo lectures.

I eventually came to appreciate and perform much of Marlo, mostly thanks to excellent teaching DVDs, especially L&L's Malone Meets Marlo series. And yet, aside from a Desert Magic Seminar in 1989, I've seen little in person or footage of Marlo himself. It was therefore a nice surprise to see that Vanishing, Inc. had discovered and resurrected some excellent footage of a 1983 West Coast Marlo lecture. Available as a download for a scant ten dollars, Ed Marlo Secret Lecture contains 31 minutes of Marlo at the top of his game. Here are demonstrations and teaching of the Hellis Change, a startling one-hand color change, the Miracle Color Change, the Rub Away vanish, Fooling Around with the top change, the Shank Shuffle vs. the Zarrow Shuffle, A Subtle Tip, Bluff Ace Assembly, a Braue Handling, Knoxville Aces, thoughts on the second deal, the Immediate Bottom Deal, and so on. He was self-aware humorous (he stood "in case he had to run" discussing the Shank Shuffle, he got a laugh offering to "tell a story on Dai"). He evidenced a respect for secrecy, offering to teach the details of a half pass only in private for a questioner in the audience. Above all, he was confident, able to field questions with aplomb. The footage is nicely annotated, and the dated VHS filming is cleanly updated. At only ten dollars, this is a bargain trip down card magic's memory lane.

Malone teaches Marlo to the masses.

Added note: for an amazing bibliography, check out Marlo's Magicpedia entry.

THE OLD SWITCHEROO -- I tend to keep a deck of cards handy at my computer desk, my keyboard resting atop a close-up mat. (That latter bit was a suggestion from Andi Gladwin.) Lately, I keep not one but two decks handy, one red and one blue. Why? So that I can, at an instant, rehearse one of the many deck switches from Ben Earl's Real Deck Switches, a new download from Vanishing Inc. This is a content-rich one hour and 13-minute download in which Ben Earl teaches a bazillion switches, a new one coming at you every few seconds. This shouldn't dissuade: it's easy to follow each new switch because they are all, as Mr. Earl says, linked. Most involve the magician seated at a table, elbows resting on the surface (though they don't have to be), one deck in hand in a dealer grip, the other in a sort of Biddle grip in the other hand. Which is which, that is, which is the cooler, depends on the switch. For virtually every switch, there is its opposite.

Ben Earl explains.

I haven't taken my own attempts out for a spin yet, but all the switches look awesome on the video and would have fooled me. These are quite practical and beg to be performed. If there is a fault, it is that the switches are so deceptive that they could be an effect in themselves. But this is not to be; they are intended to be invisible, moves that never happened. With many variations, there are triple, double, and single cut switches, pick-up switches (the deck begins on the table), in-and-out switches, ribbon spread switches, more cut switches, screen switches (the hands are out of sight), and standing switches. All the switches rely on timing and flow, not difficult sleight of hand, and none require lapping.

OK, the ad says 25 switches, not a bazillion, but it seemed like more because there is zero dead time. Beautifully shot in Las Vegas, available from vanishing Inc. as a DVD or as a download for $35.

Added note. Deck switches, invisible unless botched, are something the average magician or gambler rarely sees. My prior exposure to them was a Youtube video of some old fellow named Doc, still online here. Fun to watch.

A BONKERS AND BLOODY BRILLIANT EXISTENTIAL MYSTERY -- That heading comes from's review of the film version of Andy Nyman's and Jeremy Dyson's 2010 stage show, Ghost Stories. The film's imminent general release (April 6 in the UK) is getting a lot of attention, including the cover of the March/April Rue Morgue. That issue features an interview with Nyman and Dyson, who let us in on the transition from stage to screen. I've not been privileged to yet see either, so we can only anticipate from the media coverage. Andy Nyman, longtime Derren Brown collaborator and veteran actor, reprises his stage role as Professor Philip Goodman, a television debunker of phony psychics. But will his three tales change his and the audience's minds? We are to experience trouble in an abandoned mental hospital, a teenager driving in the woods, terror in a banker's home nursery. And is there more going on than three classic ghost stories?

Nice product placement!

My own experiences with ghost stories go back to my young teenage days, when my friends and I would slip away from the safety of our sleepover cabin to an empty field, surrounded by a dense fog rolling in off the rivers, and we'd try to chill each other with macabre imaginings. The closest I came to a hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck fright came a few years later. Two female college class presidents and I were exploring late-night Georgetown, where we discovered the infamous steps. Inexplicably, they filled us with dread, and we ran, shrieking. This was before the steps appeared in The Exorcist.

As much as I am looking forward to the movie, I wish I could have enjoyed the stage version. Scaring people in live theater is great fun. Nevertheless, it's also fun to look forward to what the Hollywood Reporter calls "a classy, clammy compendium of vintage creepy thrills." Enjoy the trailer.

MARCH MADNESS -- Living in Indiana, I don't get back to Little Egypt as often as I used to. Sometimes, however, Little Egypt comes to me. Once a year, another fellow from Bloomington and formerly, like me, from Cairo, hosts a March Madness basketball weekend to which my childhood acquaintances are invited. It's a mix brought together by a love of basketball, good food, shared memories, and even a little magic. This year, providing the last bit, I reprised the seance laid out in the October 2017 isse, five spooky minutes. As to the basketball, the tournament continues, but the defining shining moment has already occurred, just after the Loyola Chicago vs. Tennessee game, with the ecstasy of a 98-year old nun in a wheelchair and the agony of a young Tennessee girl in tears.

Basketball, barbecue, and abracadabra.


Magic before the days of Amazon.




Moving is crazy. Stay put!



April showers are coming. Curl up with copies of McGrave's Hotel and Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show.

The official Lucas Mackenzie web site.

The official McGrave's Hotel web site.

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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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