Thursday, October 14, 2010


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Thursday, April 05, 2007

East Coast Super Session

This booklet is "the first collection of close up magic from the East Coast Super Session held in HIckory, NC" in 2006. There are ten contributors and thirteen effects. Here is what is explained:

The Dousing Card (Don England)- The magician promises to find a signed selection with the help of a joker that has been formed into a Dousing Card. The Dousing Card is held over the spread deck and is noticebly attracted to one card in particular. This card is flipped over to reveal...the joker. The Dousing card is turned over. It has changed to the signed selection.

This effect is simple in both its method and construction. At its heart, this is simply a two card transposition, but yet it is something that laymen find completely impossible. It reminds me of Paul Harris's "Card Cuffs" in that the card is left in an altered state that reminds the spectators of the magic that took place.

Two Step, Two Step (Kostya Kimlat)- "Do as I Do" effects can often seem convoluted. This is not the case with Kostya's exceptionally clean and straightforward version of the classic plot. The magician holds a blue deck while a spectator holds a red one. They each select a card from the other's pack. The cards match. That's it; there's no awkward handling or switching of the packets. For the kicker, the cards are replaced in their proper packs. A second later, the cards transpose with each one appearing in the middle of the opposite deck.

While this routine is certainly powerful enough to impress laymen, it is structured to really kick fellow magicians in the teeth. Let's say you're walking around a convention with your blue deck and you see a guy with a red deck in the corner of the room. Walk over to the guy and slay him with this effect, because Kostya's method doesn't require you to set up his deck at all. Even better, it's possible to use this effect to set that same magician up for something later in the convention. I won't explain the details, but Kostya's thinking is great.

Predecktion (Steve Beam)- A prediction card is removed and placed face down on the table. Two spectators are each dealt a small packet of cards. After reversing some, the packers are repeatedly shuffled face up into face down. Finally, the cards are spread. Let's say six cards are face up. The prediction card is turned face up to reveal a six.

You can always count on Steve Beam for interesting principles in his now famous Semi-Automatic card effects. This routine is no exception. However, I fear the method may be more intersting than the routine. That is something you'll have to decide for yourself. If the effect appeals to you, the method is certainly a fooler. For me, however, the effect lacks the punch of some of Steve's other work.

Touche is What You Say (Lee Asher)- This is Lee's method of performing Paul Cummins's classic "Counting On It." While the effect is killer, Lee's handling doesn't really bring anything new to the dance. It is adequate, but I'm not convinced this variation makes the original routine any easirer or more direct thatn other version in print. At any rate, if you don't know the effect, Lee's technique isn't a bad way to go about things.

Zoso Change (Doc Doherty)- This is a color change that can also be used as a triple color change. I don't like to review card moves themselves, so I won't say much more. Doc mentions in the introduction, however, that he developed the move while playing with Larry Jennings's Optical Add On and Robert Moreland's Cloud Change.

Subwich (Rich Aviles)- Two Jokers are set aside. A card is selected and left outjogged from a packet on the table. The Jokers are inserted partway into the other half of the deck. A moment later, the selection is found face up between the Jokers. The outjogged card in the tabled packet is removed: it is the mate of the selection. Finally, the Jokers morph to the other mates to complete the four of a kind.

The ending is surprising, but the effect requires a set up that some may find difficult to get into on the fly. Of course, experienced performers will devise their own handlings, but most experienced performers already have a favorite four of a kind production. Does this mean that Rich's routine won't find an audience? Of course not. There will always be magicians who can never collect enough handling variations of classic card plots. If you belong to that group, "Subwich" will be a nice addition to your arsenal. However, even if you don't perform Rich's routine, you may find a use for his clever merging of a standard riffle force with Wesley James's Coming Up In The World Move. It allws you to force a card and switch it out in one move, making it applicable to many other effects.

Invisible Sandwich (Rich Aviles)- "A selected card is invisibly transferred from the deck into a set of jokers. Next, the selection is made to appear between the jokers on the table; however when the cards are picked up, the jokers are now invisible. To end, the spectator places the two invisible jokers into the deck where they immediately become visible and have trapped one card in between them: the third selection."

This isn't a groundbreaking new effect, but it is an entertaining impromptu item. The bit about the invisible jokers is a little out there, but if the effect is made clear to the audience, the business of handling invisible cards can be fun for laymen.

Logical Probability Sandwich (Scott Robinson)- A King sinks through the deck multiple times with seemingly no manipulation on the part of the bperformer. Finally, the two Kings trap the selection using Reinhard Muller's underused Three Card Catch. This is one of my favorite effects from the booklet. The presentation is interesting, the handling is direct, and the construction is superb. Everything occurs at the exact right moments. When the audience is ready to look for a move, the move has already taken place. In short, the routine flows.

Shrink and Drink (Joel Givens)- This has been the most talked about effect from the booklet on internet magic forums. It's an offbeat, memorable card in bottle effect. The spectator places his selection face up on the deck. With a wave of the magician's hand, the card visibly shrinks. With another wave, the card shrinks again. Finally, the mini card is dropped into a straw. The audience can see the card falling into the bottle, where it visually morphs into a regular sized playing card.

Obviously this is best when performed in a casual "impromptu" situation as this would seem to preclude any kind of setup or gimmick. While there is some preparation involved, Joel has created a worker. This is not a revolutionary new method; it is simply a well constructed, workable routine that your audience will never forget.

*I won't pretend to be a coin expert. As a result, I'm not going to review the coin items from the book. I will, however, give a brief description of the routines...

Da Vinci Coin (Scott Robinson)- Coin enthusiasts will recognize this as a version of David Roth's "Wild Coin."

Over The Hills and Far Away (Scott Robinson)- This is a three coin vanish and reproduction sequence with no gaffed coins.

Bic A Chink Transpo (Robert Moreland)- An offbeat routine where four coins are produced using an ordinary Bic pen. A short "Chink a Chink" sequence is performed along the way. Finally, the coins are pocketed. The pen is held between the magician's hands where it visually morphs into the four coints. The pen is prodced from the pocket.

Scamming The Silverware (Jason Mauney)- This is another favorite of mine from the booklet. Jason has dressed up an old principle that we all know and rarely use to build a strong, entertaining stand up routine. He mentions in the introduction that this is a variation of Jim Steinmeyer's "The Great Silverware Scam" from the December 2003 issue of MAGIC Magazine. Since I have never seen the original Steinmeyer version, I can't comment on what Jason has improved. However, I can tell you that this routine is certainly a fooler. Since it uses silverware, it won't clash with anything else already in your stand up act.

Overall, the book is well produced. The pictures are clear, and the effects are well explained. There are a few small typos and errors but nothing that will distract from your understanding of the material. Most close up workers should definitely find something they like. Only five hundred copies were printed, however. So if you're interested, you better buy this sooner than later. Recommended.

-Available from

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ron Jaxon: Almost Impromptu Vanishing Car

Reading through Ron Jaxon's Almost Impromptu Vanishing Car e-book is a bit like reading through the Conversations from the Edge sections from Paul Harris's Art of Astonishment books. The ideas are a little offbeat but are designed to get your mind running. Here's the effect: "Cause someone's car to vanish, change, or travel to another location." Sounds like a blockbuster, doesn't it? Well it is... sort of.

I might as well warn you right now that I can't describe what actually happens in this effect without giving away the secret. In other words, the effect is what you're buying here. There are no revolutionary gimmicks or techniques to speak of; it's just a silly idea that could provide a moment of astonishment or at least an entertaining memory for someone you perform for in the future.

If you're looking for a big time illusion, you are going to be disappointed. If, however, you're looking for a fun item to use to entertain friends, you may find this useful. The downside to the effect is that, most often, you will need a stooge to pull this off. When performing for friends, this usually isn't too difficult to arrange, but keeping the stooge quiet after the fact is something you really can't control. Ron explains a few methods that don't require the use of an accomplice, but the main method requires outside help.

In short, it's a mix between a practical joke and a magic trick. It begins as a magic trick, because your spectator will be genuinely shocked, at least initially, at the disappearance of his or her automobile. It becomes a practical joke when, after the initial shock wears off, the spectator correctly deduces that a stooge must have been involved. It is so impossible that the spectators will have no choice but to try to disect the events that led up to the disappearance. Once they do, they will realize that the vanish of the car was a bit dodgy. After all, if it were real magic, they would be taken outside to witness their car vanish before their eyes. This is not what occurs.

This is not to say that the trick is bad, however. In fact, it has a lot of things going for it. It's entertaining, easy to do, and extremely memorable. Years down the line, your spectators won't remember your Ace Assembly or Ambitious Card Routine, but the time you made their car travel to a different location, even if they know it wasn't pure magic, will remain fresh in their minds.

With everything I've said so far, I must mention that Ron explains one method for visually causing the spectator's car to vanish that negates the use of stooges or trickery. It is difficult to pull off and timely to set up, but when compared to other methods for visually vanishing someone's automobile, it is really pretty practical and affordable.

At any rate, this is the kind of thing that would certainly entertain friends or family when the situation arises. And since, there isn't much advance preparation, when the situation presents itself, you're set to go. Be warned that this is not an impenetrable mystery, but for $10 it's worth finding out the secret.

-Available from

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Boris Wild: Boris Wild's Lecture

Boris Wild is a French magician known throughout the world for his work on marked decks. He explains his marking system in his lecture notes cleverly titled Boris Wild’s Lecture along with a few of his other routines. Here’s what is included:

Kiss Count- This is a slight variation in handling of Brother John Hamman’s Flushtration Count. It is a little more complicated, but the retention of vision created when each card is placed to the table is strong. Also, this count appears more flourishy than its counterpart. This will appeal to some, but the fact that the count requires a working surface will force most cardmen to stick to the original.

As a side note, I must mention that this section does not discuss any routines using the move. For a utility move such as this, I have no problem with this. However, Boris re-explains the count in the next routine. While this is a minor concern, I fail to see the reasoning behind explaining the count separately only to include the same instructions in the next effect.

Chain Reaction- Two decks of cards are introduced, one “normal” and one “special.” The “special” deck of cards is shown to consist of an entire deck of double backers. A few double-backed cards from this deck are tabled. A selection is made from the normal deck, let’s say it’s the Ten of Hearts. The selection is used in a brief Wild Card routine as the double backers on the table are one-by-one transformed into the Ten. Finally, the entire “special” deck changes into the Ten of Hearts, and everything is examinable.

Despite the possibility for confusion, the routine, if handled correctly, would be very powerful for a lay audience. The Wild Card phase is especially well thought out. Best of all, the routine is easy to do. Still, while the routine is strong, there are certainly better All Backs and Wild Card routines in the magic literature. I mention this not to discount Boris’s effect, but for a working professional to justify carrying around extra props, the effect must be as powerful as possible. I’m not sure this trick qualifies. In short, while the routine is worthy of study, it may not be something you will ever actually perform.

The B.W. Marked Deck- Let me preface my comments on Boris’s contribution to the world of marked decks by admitting that I have never really used one in the past. As a result, I cannot offer much of a comparison between Boris’s version and past solutions. That being said, I was immediately struck by how easy it was to use. The marks on the backs are easy to read; there is no complicated memorization involved in learning to read the marks; and each card can be located quickly when the deck is spread on the table or in the hands. It seems the only difficult thing to do is to actually make up the pack. Again, since I don’t have any experience with marking decks, I do not know how difficult Boris’s version is to create with respect to others. However, I can tell you that once the deck is made, it would be a very powerful tool to add to your arsenal.

Inexplicable- This is the kind of stuff I love. Basically, this is Dai Vernon’s legendary “Trick That Cannot Be Explained” performed with a marked deck. This makes the final revelation, whatever it may be, even more impossible. While this kind of an effect is very difficult to describe in print, Boris provides some useful “outs” to make sure the ending always kicks the spectators in the teeth. The only problem I have with the write-up is the author’s claim that a particular ruse works 99% of the time. The laws of probability simply don’t agree with this assertion. At any rate, the experienced performer will be able to slay laymen and magicians alike with this idea.

The B.W. Memorized Deck- Boris’s stack makes it fairly easy to calculate which card lies at a specified number. Likewise, it is easy to compute the number at which a specified card lies in the deck. As a result, this stack can be a great utility device in some situations. However, if you are serious about working with a stacked deck, I must warn you that Boris’s stack has some severe limitations. First, the stack does not appear to be random at all. This may not be a problem for many performers since the cards can be shown casually with a dribble display. However, they cannot be viewed for very long or a pattern will become immediately apparent. Second, mathematical calculations can never make up for truly knowing the stack by heart. Sure, the mental calculations make locating a card or position easier in some ways, but the calculation will take time. In some effects, this extra time is simply not available.

Miracle!- This is Boris’s solution to the venerable Any Card At Any Number plot. The effect is as follows. A blue deck is tossed out into the audience. A red deck is introduced and a spectator shuffles the cards. Another spectator names any number from 1 to 52 (let’s say she names 23). The magician takes back the red deck without looking at the faces and the spectator selects a card (let’s say it’s the 7 of Clubs). The magician asks the spectator to remove the blue cards and count down to the 23 card. Of course, it is the 7 of Clubs.

The effect and method are both fairly straightforward. As you might have guessed from the contents of these notes, the routine requires both Boris’s stack and marked deck. He uses both principles intelligently to construct a routine that should completely fool any audience. Once the performer becomes familiar with these two ideas, there is very little work to do at all. I should mention that this routine does not satisfy most of the “impossible” conditions magicians usually associate with the ultimate solution to the ACAAN plot, but for the performer who is only concerned with entertaining an audience, Boris has created an extremely powerful routine.

Pure Telepathy- This is absolutely worth the price of the lecture notes. In fact, if it were marketed separately, it could probably sell for even more. The effect to any audience is completely impossible. In fact, I distinctly remember being flabbergasted when I saw another magician use this routine to fool a room full of magicians. Pay close attention to the conditions of the effect.

The magician shuffles the cards and leaves them on the table. A spectator is called on stage as the magician withdraws to a corner of the room. The spectator is asked to cut the cards wherever she wants and to remember the bottom card. She then shuffles the cards in her hands as much as she likes. The remainder of the deck is put in the box and placed away. The magician returns to the stage and retrieves the cards, but he never looks at the faces. The cards are spread in front of the lady’s eyes as she is instructed to concentrate on her card. Little by little, the magician drops all the cards except one: the card the woman is merely thinking of.

· There is no pumping, fishing, forcing, estimating, or peeking.
· There are no stooges or assistants.
· The spectator has a completely free choice of a card.
· The magician truly never sees the selection being made.
· The cards are legitimately shuffled.
· The spectator never has to say a word.
· The magician never sees the faces of the cards.
· The effect can be immediately repeated.

The best part of the whole thing is that the routine is relatively easy to perform, yet it could be built up to be completely impossible. In fact, it is strong enough to be performed as a closer. If you're still not convinced, take a look at a demo from Boris's site:

The routines and ideas included in the notes are obviously things that Boris has used for real audiences. The explanations are clear his writing style is easy to read. In short, if you are looking for card material with a mental flavor, these notes are definitely worthy of purchase. The price is low and the material is strong. Recommended.

-Available from

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tyler Wilson: Dominatricks

Tyler Wilson is a new force on the magic scene, and, if the quality of his book is any indication, he is here to stay. I honestly can’t find much bad to say about it. His attention to detail is nearly unparalleled; every element of every routine is completely thought out; and he is careful with crediting which, unfortunately, seems to be a dying practice in the magic world.

With regards to his writing style, he has continued in the tradition of authors such as David Acer and Paul Harris in that his explanations are clear, concise, and downright entertaining. I will admit I laughed out loud on multiple occasions. Tyler’s write-ups make me eager to see him perform in person. Perhaps the greatest compliment I could give this book is to say that you will want to read it in one sitting. That is not true of most books in the magic literature.

With the praise I have given the Dominatricks so far, you are probably wondering about what is explained.

First, Tyler uses his creativity to breathe a little fresh air into a few standard moves. Most notable are…

Rub’n’Tug- Besides being the first of many innuendos found in Tyler’s chapter titles, this move looks really good. In effect, this is a face up Rub-A-Dub Vanish. For those not familiar with the original version from Expert Card Technique, a card is placed under a performers hand only to vanish when the hand is lifted.

Tyler Insults Tilt’s Totally Inexplicable Elegance and Simplicity- Tyler explains several Tilt convincers and subtleties that really impress upon an audience that the card is inserted into the middle of the deck. It is obvious that he has put a lot of thought into improving the weak points of the classic Vernon/Marlo technique. While some may argue that these ideas take too much effort for such a simple move, Tyler has no mercy on his audience. His routines strive to leave his spectators with nowhere to run. His efforts to improve even the most mundane aspects of his performance speak volumes about the standards he sets for himself.

Pitching a Tent Vanish- Again, Tyler vanishes a card, this time in the context of supposedly palming it off the deck. The technique may be used to “vanish face up cards on a face down deck, face down cards on a face up deck, red backed cards on a blue backed deck, a single card on a card box, ad infinitum.” It could even be done with a credit card on top of a wallet. Also included in this section is a nice tip to improve the standard Tent Vanish that may be of interest to those who do not want to learn Tyler’s new version.

Now to the routines…

Compost It- Tyler has a knack for updating standard plots with a new approach. This time he attacks the venerable ambitious card routine with Post-It notes of all things. Luckily, Tyler spares his audience from merely watching a signed card come to the top nine thousand times. Instead, he provides a goofy, entertaining presentation that justifies why the magic happens. For the finale, the deck slowly vanishes leaving only the signed card.

Release the Chocolate Hostage- A spectator signs a card. Let’s say it is the Four of Hearts. The card is left reversed in the middle. Another card, let’s say the Three of Hearts, is introduced. One at a time, two pips visually jump off the Three. This causes the card to change into a Two then an Ace. When the deck is spread, the signed selection is seen to have caught the two pips. The spectator’s name is now across the Six of Hearts. Keep in mind, the routine is fairly easy to do and requires no gaffs.

Dirty Stinkin’ Ape in the Middle- Before you dismiss this as just another sandwich trick, look at what Tyler brings to the dance. He combines a loading sequence that will even catch magicians off guard with a clever presentation to form an entertaining sandwich effect that can be performed at any time with any shuffled deck. Don't believe me? heck it out for yourself for free at

Clean Sanchez- Tyler uses the same loading sequence from the previous routine for a totally different effect. It is clever and commercial. What more could you ask for?

B52 Shooter- I am tempted to describe this routine with one word: wow! In short, this is perhaps the most refreshing addition to Dai Vernon’s Triumph plot in years. Sure there are a hundred in-the-hands versions and even more with a color changing deck kicker, but Tyler took the plot in a totally new direction. A selection is returned to the deck and the cards are shuffled face up into face down. The performer claims that he will sort out each individual face up card from the face down deck with one shuffle with one hand. Amazingly, he delivers on his promise as face up cards shoot out of the deck across the table. When the shuffle is finished, the face down cards are spread to reveal only one face up card. It proves to be the selection.

Coke Inhabit- I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what happens, but this is definitely not your standard coin-in-bottle effect. I say this both to intrigue you and to warn you. If you are looking for the newest method of slamming a coin into a solid bottle, this is not what you are after. However, if you are looking for a quirky, off-beat trick to seriously screw with you spectators, this may be right for you.

Matrimoney- Tyler describes this routine as a “Celebrity Death Match between Coins Across and Ring Flight.” After a quick Coins Across routine, the spectator’s ring changes into a quarter. Later the ring is found in the performer’s wallet. The routine requires no gaffs or special wallets. It does, however, take a bit of guts to pull off the somewhat bold method of loading the ring. I should also mention that this loading sequence can be added to your existing Coins Across routine as it is independent of Tyler’s routine.

Stick It To The Man- This is truly a “packs flat, plays big” mentalism routine that leaves plenty of room for improvising with the audience. The effect is direct and powerful. Best of all, it uses Post-It notes. (Tyler really has a thing for those, doesn’t he?) At any rate, the CD-Rom that accompanies the book includes the graphics needed for the trick. I will say that the drawings from the disc look homemade while still looking professional. By this, I mean that they look like something you could make on your home computer with clip art. This makes the trick seem a little less like it came from the magic shop. That’s always a plus.

Paul Mase’s Trick- At its roots, this is just a Technicolor version of the classic Open Travelers plot. His justification for creating this variation is sound: he demonstrates not only how to palm the Aces, but also how to find them in the deck. In Tyler’s words, “This creates an additional three magical moments for the plot without deviating from its core concept.” This is one of the more difficult routines in the book, but if the plot interests you, it may be worth the work. However, even if this effect is not you style, the unique presentation is worth a study. I won’t spill the beans here, but suffice it to say that any magician that can logically integrate the Konami Contra code into a magic routine is my kind of guy. Nintendo Power!

Scarred Warp- Probably the most talked about routine from Dominatricks will be Tyler’s addition to Roy Walton’s classic Card Warp. Again Tyler does not just offer a small variation to the standard handling. Instead, he adds to the effect. I won’t spoil the surprise, but I will tell you that the effect looks super weird. It is the kind of thing that is fun to perform in front of a mirror. For the finale, the cards are handed out to the spectator after being formed into a nice souvenir. As a side note, since Card Warp is still a marketed item, Tyler had to be careful about revealing too much of its inner workings. Kudos to him for still explaining his version clearly.

Sven Who?- Using a principle that will convert your deck into a pseudo-gaffed weapon, Tyler causes the faces of the cards to change twice before revealing that the selection has a different colored back.

Sloppy 30 Seconds- Tyler’s strength lies in creating effects that go beyond where most magicians usually stop. In other words, most magicians stop thinking too early; Tyler does not. For that reason, I feel I must keep you in the dark about yet another routine. Let’s just say, Tyler turned the standard two card transposition on its head.

Finally, the CD-Rom included with the book contains videos of a few of the moves as well as a left-handed version of the book in PDF format.

With all the positive things I’ve said about Tyler’s work, I must mention the two problems I have with Dominatricks. First, the book’s layout and cover design are awesome, but I found myself a little frustrated at times that the book wouldn’t lay flat when opened. In other words, I had to hold it open with something while trying to learn a move. This isn’t a huge deal, but it was a bit annoying.

My second complaint is perhaps a little more serious. Quite frankly, I’m a little upset that Tyler won’t be able to publish material as fast as I can read it. Darn you, Tyler! Highly recommended!

-Available from

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dan Harlan: Pack Small Play Big Kid's Birthday Show

Dan Harlan's Pack Small Play Big series released by L&L Publishing is designed to show performers how to entertain an audience with props that can fit into a standard briefcase. In this volume, Dan discusses how to build an entertaining kids' show using a few marketed props and gimmicks you can make at home. Here is what is explained...

Let It All Out- This vanishing and reappearing handkerchief routine is designed to teach the kids how to react to the show. It's a simple warm up that Dan believes gets everyone ready for the magic that is to come. While it is certainly best to have some type of warm up effect, some may feel that this encourages the kids to get a bit too wild. Still, it provides a look into how one performer likes to begin.

Gosh Man- This is a sponge ball routine with a bit of a twist inspired by the classic Slydini Paper Balls Over The Head. I felt the performance was a little rushed and confusing to the children. The "move" was a little too blatant and quickly done. This may have been an attempt to keep the rest of the audience from telling how the trick was done, but the speed sacrificed the comedy that could come from the situation. Dan finishes with the marketed Sponge Ball to Cube. While he does not bring much new to the table, his performance may convince many kids' show performers to add this underused prop to their act.

Sucker Suckers- The magician introduces a bag and displays four jumbo lollypops one at a time: each one is a different color. The performer decides to keep one for himself and places it into his case. When the bag is opened, the others have vanished. Finally, the magician produces a real jumbo lollypop for the child to keep. Dan explains the construction of the simple gimmick needed for the effect. Unfortunately, the trick itself is a bit weak. Still, some performers may be able to create their own routine using this clever prop.

Balloon-atic- Dan performs a few standard bits of business while making a big balloon sculpture for the birthday child. Most experienced performers will have seen this type of sillyness before. No magic is performed during the routine.

This Century- Dan's version of the classic 20th Century Silks effect adds nothing much new to the effect, but the method is quite clever. Ungimmicked silks are used throughout the routine and everything may be examined after the routine. Unfortunately, this effect really isn't strengthened by having the props end examinable, so it is no better than the original gimmicked version.

Party Hat- This effect was a little weak for me. While, producing candy or party favors for the children is a classic idea, this version isn't all that magical.

Coloring Book- If you are a children's performer, you probably already perform this classic routine. In fact, you probably perform nearly the exact same routine as every other magician and clown around...including Dan Harlan. There is absolutely nothing new brought to the trick. The advice he gives is common sense. Think of this as more of a dealer demo than a new routine.

Shake It Up- This was definitely the highlight of the DVD. Here's the dealer ad:"With the help of one of the children, the magician attempts to make a milkshake starting with milk and ice cream, but he doesn't have some of the ingredients so he substitutes ketchup and mustard for chocolate, then adds salt and pepper for more flavor! Harlan has taken the hassle out of this routine by eliminating all liquids, although you'll swear he used some!"

The ad is 100% accurate: you will believe he used some sort of liquid. You place a container on top of a child's head as you procede to fill it with ingredients. You actually SEE the liquids going into the container, yet there are none used whatsoever. While the gaffs you will have to make up may be difficult to come by, they are among the coolest I have ever seen in magic. The climax to the routine is a production of a bunch of candy bars. The only weak point in the routine is the load of the candy into the container. I would recommend purchasing Don Alan's classic Comedy Egg Can to use with Dan's otherwise fantastic routine.

Candy Man- For his finale, Dan produces enough candy for everyone in the crowd out of a previously empty bag. Again, this is nothing spectacular, but the kids will be happy they get to eat the treats.

Overall, the DVD left me wanting more. However, some may find the "Shake It Up" routine worth the price of admission. If the routine sounds like something you would like to perform, and you are willing to do some hunting for the materials necessary to create the props, this DVD may be a wise investment. Otherwise, I would look elsewhere.

---Available from

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Nate Kranzo: Things With Cards

Things With Cards focuses on Nate Kranzo's card material. Included in the book are false cuts, card routines, utility moves, and four of a kind productions. According to Nate, "The material is anywhere from dead easy, to very difficult. It’s all visual." Here's what is explained...

In the Hands Freeman- Four Aces are produced in the midst of a riffle shuffle. Not much else can be said. This is a quick, practical method for producing any four-of-a-kind.

Stick 4- This is another visual four-of-a-kind production that is pretty simple to do. I will not describe the exact effect for fear of tipping the method, but I will say that this is one of the only effects in the notes that cannot be done with a completely straight deck. However, the gimmick involved is minimal and allows for a ultra visual appearance of the Aces (or whatever.)

For Instant- One card explodes into four. This is a bit knacky, but I imagine it would look very good. Unfortunately this seems to be one of those things that would be easier to learn from seeing it in action on a video.

Trans AM- This is a visual two card transposition between a selection resting on the back of your hand and a card placed in your pocket. It feels risky to perform but everything is surprisingly secure.

Invisible Elasticity II- This was my favorite effect from the notes. An invisible rubber band is wrapped around the deck. A signed selection is slid beneath it. When the selection is pulled to the right is snaps back. Next, the magician drops the cards into the spectators hands where a rubberband visually appears encircling the deck. Finally, the selection is placed face up into the center of the pack and is visually pulled up through the deck and rubberband. A demo video of this effect can be seen at Nate's site ( Scroll down to the Things With Cards section and click to play the embedded YouTube video.

Standing Up to Ray and Bill- Nate's handling of the classic Triumph effect has a few things going for it. First, everything can be performed completely in the hands without the need for a table. Second, it is relatively simple to perform. Finally, Nate has managed to change the effect by altering the revelation. Instead of the cards magically righting themselves after being shuffled face up into face down, Nate causes the cards visually right themselves before the shuffle is completed. Best of all, the change happens with the cards held in only one hand. Believe me, this looks really cool.

Thumb Variation- This is Nate's touch on a color change inspired by John Cornelius's "Winter Change" and Steve Draun's "Starfish Change." As I'm not familiar with the aforementioned changes, I cannot really comment on Nate's additions.

Unnecessary Cut- This cutting sequence that does not alter the order of the cards, but I do not prefer it to most other false cuts (including the other one included in this book). I have a feeling that I might like this better if I could see it in action as it is another piece that would be a little easier to grasp from watching a video.

Small Packet Reversal- In Nate's words, "I do not plan on explaining any routines using this sleight because I feel that it is versatile enough to be used in just about any small-packet routine." Unfortunately, this is once again something that would be easier learned from a video.

Sekel Tuc and The Dancy Revelation- Luke Dancy's false cut is fairly simple to perform compared to most other fancy cutting sequences. It can also be used to produce four of a kind in a quick, visual manner. This was featured on Luke Dancy's Magic For The Eyes DVD. Those who have witnessed it can attest to how visually shocking the production can be.

You will notice I have mentioned that a few of these effects would be easier learned from a video. I make this comment as a warning to readers who have difficulty learning from the written word. This is not a bash at the author for not explaining things clearly. The effects are explained clearly and can be learned in this format; my assertion is just that things would be easier to understand if they could be seen in action.

My only complaint with the explanations of the effects is that there was a little less attention to detail than I would have wished for. For example, the instructions may call for the Aces to be set up on top of the deck. However, later in the explanation, the author may reference the Kings. This is a minor mistake that will not interfere with your understanding of the material.

Overall, the material is good but not for everyone. If you are in to slick card moves and fancy productions your money will be well spent. Others may feel more satisfied from Nate's other tremendous material available for instant download from his website. (Check out my review for his In The Heat of the Desert Lecture Notes.) While you don't have to be a finger-flinger to enjoy this e-book, Nate's other offerings are more suited for the magician looking to quickly add a few things to his repetoire.

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