Note ye ed's email address:

Return to our September issue for a look at goodies from the USPS, at the audience rapport of Pop Haydn and Lucy Darling, at Morgan & West's Decoded, and at the Allied Arts of your favorite magicians.

October 2018

Boo to all and Happy Halloween.

The weather has turned cold as the grave, and it's been a brilliant October so far. A great magic show and two great books came to town and captured my attention. Read on, and spend a little time with Simon Coronel, Geoff Latta, and Harry Lorayne.

Re my Allied Arts list last month, of couse add: Tina Lenert plays the harp.

When we moved to a new condo in January, Maleficent suggested that I decorate the magic library with Haunted Mansion art. These are the visuals that grace the titles below. Thanks, M.

And now to don my Halloween costume. That knock on your door late some night might be ... me!

SIMON CORONEL IN HOOSIER COUNTRY -- Context: A gem in the Bloomington, Indiana, theater scene is the Bloomington Playwrights Project, its 85-seat theater a showcase for original and contemporary plays only. Under director Chad Rabinovitz, who also directs the Adirondack Theatre and Film Festivals in Glens Falls, New York, Chad has quintupled BPP's subscribership, erased all debt, purchased its own building, and sold out every performance for four years. Most significantly, he is magic-friendly and known for working with magicians on developing and directing their acts, including the likes of Marc Summers, Max Major, and Caleb Wiles. The most recent beneficiary of Chad's advice is Simon Coronel, whose one-man play Glitches in Reality just opened BPP's 2018-2019 season.

Simon Coronel on stage.

"This show gets a ten," exclaimed the glowing two-column review in Bloomington's Herald-Times. Not only did the show sell out its scheduled seven-night run over two weekends, but added two nights and a corporate engagement. Simon Coronel brings much to the mix in Glitches, a fast-paced 90-minute mix of biography, a fascination with Impossible Objects, and internationally award-winning sleight of hand. An Australian living in Los Angeles ("Across the street from the Magic Castle," he happily told me), Simon had primarily been known to me through his inspirational three-year run as a columnist for MAGIC magazine and through his poker chip Three-Fly appearances on "Penn&Teller: Fool Us." It was a pleasure to learn much more about him over the course of his revealing script.

Fellow "Fool Us" alumni.

I attended the show twice, once with my ten-year-old granddaughter and once with Simon's fellow "Fool Us" alum Caleb Wiles, and the show was a hit from both perspectives. Magic wise, I tallied over 20 routines, many beginning with the borrowing of disparate objects from the audience: a bag containing four coins, three poker chips, a can of Pringles, a glass jar, etc. It was a funny and subtle way to demonstrate that the objects had been examined. To list only a few routines: an interactive finger exercise a la Doug Henning, four-ace productions, Sympathetic Coins, Three-Fly, tying a knot in a jelly snake and unscrambling a Rubik's cube with his mouth, a Wikipedia-based book test (my granddaughter's favorite), various color changes, a Slydini-esque rope cut routine, an Ashes on Palm variant, rubber band handcuffs, a coincidence effect in which every audience member had his own deck of cards, and the productions of bottles of Coke. What sound like totally unrelated effects actually fit seamlessly into the themes at play in the script.

Simon's path in magic began with a childhood interest in a ship in a bottle and led to an interest in Harry Eng-like Impossible Objects. He closed the show with a jar containing, impossibly, a coin, a padlock, and a pair of scissors, all of which had been used in prior routines. This jar, as well as other Impossible Objects, became part of a museum on display in the lobby, where the audience got to inspect them at close range and to chat with the show's most personable performer.

Simon's museum of Impossible Objects.

To return to the newspaper review: "Coronel's self-deprecating humor weaved in and out through his myriad tricks and illusions, leaving a rapt audience (another BPP full house) speechless. Well, actually, we were gawking, ah-ing, ooh-ing, and yelling, 'What!?'"

What indeed.

(Details of local interest: Director -- Chad Rabinovitz, Lighting Design -- Jeffrey Small, Scenic Design -- Shane Cinal, Props Master -- Barbara Steininger, Costume Designer --- Shannon O'Donnel, Stage Manager -- Kayla Cieslinski) .

GEOFF LATTA AND CHANGE -- The Long Goodbye/Latta on Coins is the most heartfelt farewell to a colleague and friend in magic that I can recall. I am not a coin guy myself and so didn't fully appreciate Geoff Latta in his time. I knew he had contributed a generous section to Richard Kaufman's seminal CoinMagic, but I hadn't looked at the book in decades. (I am currently looking at it a lot! It's marvelous.) He had turned up in Richard's Almanac, and in the first (and best) issue of Apocalypse. When he died in 2008, at 51, from the effects of alcoholism, it was noted in the Genii forum and later (February 2009) in an extensive Genii obituary by his friend Jamy Ian Swiss. But that was it. I knew little of Geoff's extended coin and card work, and I knew nothing of him as a human being, especially when he was a young man on the cusp of greatness.

Latta on Coins.

That has changed. The Long Goodbye will catch you up. Even if you have never heard of Geoff Latta, it will make you miss him. First there is the material. All his known coin work, published or unpublished, is included, carefully and clearly recorded by Stephen Minch and Stephen Hobbs. It's a substantial and groundbreaking body of work with more than 25 sleights and 48 tricks and routines. Next there are the testimonials of friends, particularly the introduction by Jamy, "He Was That Good," an expansion of his original obituary.

Then, in over two dozen sidebars, comes Geoff Latta's own voice, culled from various writings, opining on a wide range of coin magic issues. It underscores the precision of his thinking. I especially enjoyed his comments on The Cylinder and Coins:

Why do the trick? Why do any trick? Personally I do them because they're fun to do and fun to watch.

How to present it?

Just do the trick, for cryin' out loud!

Finally, and most affectingly, there is the DVD, with six routines extracted from the legendary Pink Purse Tape: Box Trot, From the Elfin Hoard, Lateral Slow Motion Coin Vanish, Copsilbrass, HPC Coins Across, and Open Ticket. Here you see Geoff Latta full of all the promise in the world: funny, confident, charming, NYC cool, handsome with a shock of Steranko-class hair, and then those amazing hands. The Pink Purse Tape was a video put together by (at least) Jamy Ian Swiss, Peter Samelson, and Geoff Latta, in order to share some routines with everyone's friend, Roger Klause. It's a wonderful record of how the Underground kept secrets ("I'd like you to sit on it," Geoff advises Roger) as well as how it shared secrets. The delight with which Geoff imparts this material to Roger is evident.

All the promise in the world.

The book itself is a near-perfect hardback of 344 pages, comprehensively illustrated with over 720 small but clear photos, distinguishably oblong at 6.5 in tall by 10 in wide, with a striking dust cover. For anyone interested in coin magic or in magical history, it's an essential purchase. This is Latta on Coins, and Latta on Cards is expected and eagerly anticipated. $80 from your favorite dealer. I bought mine from H&R Magic Books.

HARRY LORAYNE'S FINAL BOOK? -- When have we heard that before? At least I have in my hands Harry's next book, And Finally!, so titled with a nod to Father Time, but which might have also been titled Jaw Droppers! Three. And Finally! follows the pattern Harry established with the excellent Jaw Droppers! series, mining his former out of print material for new gold. With the Jaw Droppers! books the mother lode was the Best of Friends titles. With And Finally!, Harry revisits, revitalizes, and reinvents material from Personal Collection, his mammoth (644 pp) collection of "all cards, all new, all mine."(I once took that book to the beach in Florida but, alas, spent all my time boogie boarding and seeking out key lime pie.)

Harry Lorayne's Last Word?

One of the testimonials in Harry's Genii ad reads, "Harry Lorayne books have given me a life!" I couldn't have put it better. I was in early high school back in 1962 when Close-Up Card Magic introduced me to what first-rate card magic could be, amazing routines yet not too difficult and that could be done with a borrowed deck. With his latest, Harry has now been reinforcing that standard for 57 years.

A few examples:

PPP Powerful Powers Presentation. You reveal four ultra clean selections plus one of your own via a series of reverse faros. A stunning impromptu routine for four spectators.

Your Favorite Card. A quickie with the impact of Jim Ryan's Vice Versa. A fast transposition of two cards, a strong kicker to any routine where a single card is discovered.

I'll Read Your Mind. A shuffled deck is cut into three piles. You look away as spek checks top card of any pile, buries it in any other pile, then combines the piles and shuffles. You read his mind.

Jacks Are Better. Four attempts at finding a selection repeatedly locate a jack instead. The jacks then find the card. Clever use of the Lorayne force.

Lazy Man's Card Trick. I know. You know it as one of the tricks from Close-Up Card Magic that cemented Harry's reputation. And yet, as I mentioned in July, a little girl recently fooled me with it. How? All the cuts were face down, and she didn't use the Lazy Man patter. Got me!

And so much more:

Triplocation. Involves a favorite method in which any card chosen locates (counts to, spells to) a selection. In this version the chosen card finds three selections.

The Family Unit. Working with all court cards you deal a heart to the table. It is sandwiched between two clubs, and now all three are clubs. Repeat with other suits. Finally three spades become all diamonds. Easy, magical!

What's Mine Is Yours! A clean Scarne-like transposition of two cards, but no duplicates.

Lorayne's Poker Deal Plus. Like the old Gardner poker deal but with a second round to a second royal.

Amazing Location. Five cards are removed form a shuffled deck. A reverse faro bit isolates a previously selected card.

Whew. So is it a wrap? Whatever, being along for the ride with Harry has been delightful, a happy life. The usual specs: Some 80 titled moves and routines, hardback with dust cover, 250 pages, $89.90 with postage by check, direct from Harry Lorayne, 48 Liberty Street, Newburyport, MA 01950.


On the bookshelf.




Throw a scary party.



Follow us on Twitter.

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.

Past issues of this web site: Index to Past Issues

Notice: Any limited use of copyrighted images or quoted text is considered fair use, usually to review whatever product or event that is under discussion. If you object to use of any material, please get in touch and it will be cheerfully removed.

A JSB Creations product

Copyright© 2018 by Steve Bryant