20 Year Anniversary

Today is my Birthday and also the 20 year Anniversary of this blog which was started on 31st July 2000. I believe I was possibly one of the first magic blogs on the internet, given that the term ‘weblog’ was coined in 1997 and the term blog in 1999.

It is fun to look back over 20 years of archives and see what was around back then, I was collecting links not just for magic, but juggling, origami, circus and other allied arts. I also started writing convention reviews, namely two giant FISM reviews in 2003 and 2006 that even got published in Genii magazine and I also started writing for Magic Convention Guide with reviews of Blackpool and IBM conventions.

Then in 2011 I made a huge decision to take one of the biggest leaps of my life and start my own business, which has been running for 9 years now. You can see that this pretty much coincides with this blog dropping off. Turns out running a company is all consuming, who knew?! I have posted somewhat sporadically since then, and I don’t know if that will change, who knows, but I like having this little corner that no one visits, but that I can write things, and they can be linked too etc.

The world has changed from 20 years ago, they said blogging was dead, I’m not quite so sure, I still read a bunch of magic and technology blogs. Another old technology based on RSS, podcasts, have made a huge leap in popularity, with a number of magic podcasts springing up, and of course that little video site known as YouTube has spawned magic content for good and bad.

YouTube wasn’t even a thing 20 years ago, only being started 5 years after this blog, but now you can find anything and everything. It brings with it magic exposure for good or bad, lots of young magicians only consume and learn from YouTube. And also has spawned lots of magic content including review shows and the ability for performers showcase performances and allowing us to see old archive footage of magicians of the past.

It seems fitting then that I am still consuming, watching, reading, learning a huge amount of magic, and the single best thing I have been obsessed with over the last 5 years has been a blog. A big shout out must go to Andy over at The Jerx. Who knew starting a blog these days would get the amount of attention and traction. Andy is an anonymous amateur magician who blogs about amateur and social magic, something that very much fits my circumstance. I have been very happy to pay into his site to support his writing and receive his yearly book. Whoever he may be, he is writing some of the best, most creative, funny, incredible, thought provoking writing in magic at this present time, in the form of a blog. Long live blogging!

Jamie Daws – Virtual Mind Reading System – Review →

Jamie has released a system of performing mind reading over Zoom/Skype that is based on his The Tracker booklet. I’m not sure why this wasn’t mentioned in the Penguin advert, but to me that would be a strength to highlight this as I really liked his Tracker principle when I bought the booklet a while back.

What Jamie brings to this download is a way of doing Tracker in virtual environments. Jamie gives you a toolbox to pull from just like in his original manuscript, but you are encouraged to come up with your own ideas as well and I have already thought of several ways I could get into The Tracker concept.

I am already going to try using the Missing Digit ploy that I remember learning from Ken De Courcy’s Pentertain booklet, or it can be found in Harry Lorayne’s The Magic Book, more recently brought back to us by Marc Lavelle in his At The Table lecture. So if you don’t like what Jamie teaches, this I think for me at least makes the whole thing a little more hidden, they can generate a random number, call out the number, missing out one digit and you then already have what you need to proceed with the Tracker portion.

During these Covid-19 times I have also been re-reading Jim Steinmeyers Impuzzibilities series, and there are other things in these booklets that would work remotely, specifically just using the spectators hands to get where you need to be and would keep it consistent with the rest of the effect.

So what exactly is this about, well The Tracker and the variations shown here allow you to know if someone is lying or telling the truth, in which hand they hold an imaginary coin, a thought of number or playing card, and even which item from a list they will select, it really is a versatile concept open to lots of variation. Unlike some propless mentalism as well this is very surefire and doesn’t require lots of thought by your spectator.

You get all of Jamie’s wisdom of having performed this, and if you like it then it is well worth picking up the Tracker booklet as well for when we can all get back out there and do face to face shows.

I really liked the ideas Jamie shared of making this concept work with multiple people as well, and all to end on a confabulation type prediction, again with minimal or no props needed on the performer or spectator side.

I for one am totally happy with my purchase even though I had already bought Tracker and as I said at the start my head is buzzing with ways that I can do this virtually, not just the ways that Jamie teaches!

The Art of an Illusionist – Guest Post

The Art of An Illusionist

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of an illusionist? The word is used to describe a person who performs stage magic to entertain audiences.  Many of us have witnessed them perform by making an object levitate, make things disappear and reappear, cut someone in half, turn an apple into a bird, or making a handkerchief disappear. We enjoy magic shows like The Carbonaro Effect and watched movies such as The illusionist.

We all rely on our senses so logically we know what we have seen is not real. We begin to doubt if we see what we saw, but the popular proverb ‘’what is worth seeing is worth believing’’ helps us arrive at a logical conclusion that what we just witnessed happened.

An illusionist is trained to read signals and follow people’s thought process. They use skilful methods of exploiting awareness, misdirecting of attention, and distorting perceptions to perform tricks that give illusion its meaning. They utilise psychological principles to create a rare form of entertainment with their performance. However, understanding how these tricks works do not diminish their brilliance and potential to be extremely entertaining.

You know a secret method is hidden when they perform just like when a magician. Illusionists use methods that you cannot see because they make it invisible to the audience. It’s there to be explored and controlled by the illusionist to amuse and entertain the audience. Without this, we would not have illusionists.

Where do Illusionists Perform?

Illusionists perform on a variety of stages and gatherings. They have opportunities to perform in the event industry. They can perform at corporate events, exhibitions, conferences, meet and greet events and also at private events like weddings, Birthdays and Dinner parties. Are you planning to host an event? Hiring an event illusionist is a great idea to create a rare form of entertainment for your guests. You cannot miss with an illusionist!

They create astonishing performance and give your guests an unforgettable memory. Most people have not had a close-up experience of an illusionist. They may have watched David Blaine perform breathtaking tricks on TV but have not had a real experience. This is why you need to hire an illusionist if you are planning an event this year.

One major reason why illusionists are not so common as musicians and other performance arts is that it is a skill that takes a lot of time and dedication to master. Whatever the event may be, hiring an illusionist is will make a perfect sideshow for your main event.

Hiring an Illusionist?

If you are planning an event or party in 2020 and you want to hire an illusionist for a party to wow your guests, there are several options available to you.

Gimmick It Yourself by Ben Williams

Ben was kind enough to provide me with a free review copy of his latest download.

In the present days of magic publishing – one-trick-downloads and unfinished ideas being published as highly priced e-books – it is really nice to see that Ben has published an over two-hour video download containing 5 solid pieces of magic, with additional thoughts and routines.

The underlying theme, as the title suggests, is a set of 5 effects that use simple gimmicks. Ben takes you through the general idea behind the method. We then get into the DIY portion as Ben shows you how to build the gimmicks, and finally how to use the gimmick in a routine.

The gimmicks are all simple in nature, and very easy and cheap to build, so if like me your arts-and-crafts ability is zero, don’t fear!

We start off with Off Balance with which you can impossibly suspend items like sharpies, sunglasses, forks, and they can be borrowed and handed out afterwards for immediate examination. The display is almost that of the old Broomstick Suspension illusion and the gimmick reminds me of Mark Elsdon’s iBalance however this will work for other objects.

As an aside over the past few years, for me, and the performing I want to do, I have really, really enjoyed reading Andy’s posts over at The Jerx blog. If you have never heard of this, where have you been! Andy is an anonymous writer, and writes about social magic and performing as an amateur, and the opportunities that affords. The reason I mention this here, is that one of the performance styles Andy recommends is something called The Distracted Artist, you can read about that in his Presentation Week post and also in his post entitled Return of the Distracted Artist.

I can certainly see how I could use Off Balance in this scenario, just sat in a coffee shop and distractedly trying to balance my fork. This would be a perfect fit for this performance style and makes me excited to give this a go!

The next effect SOS stands for Secured on Sharpie and is an easy ring flight where the spectators ring ends up duct-taped to the lid of the sharpie in your back pocket. This is a secure ring-flight and affords a very clean vanish. The gimmick is very easy to setup and construct and does most of the work. Ben also shows us a full routine where the ring appears and vanishes a few times before ending with SOS. For me until Dave Bonsall produced his excellent Ring Flight Revolution I wouldn’t consider using Ring Flight because of the hokey looking ring cases. SOS brings that organic feel back to the trick and uses an item you already have on your person as a magician.

Stash is a gimmick you can use to hold-out a card or cards whilst the spectator shuffles the deck for example. The out-of-the-box thinking Ben has applied to come up with this gimmick is what makes this such a brilliantly simple idea. The cards can be loaded and retrieved with ease and the gimmick hides in plain sight, and takes up no pocket space. The one possible issue, if there really is one, is that this might be more suited to informal dress, but I am sure I can come up with a way around this. Ben provides us with a number of ideas for its use, including an Ace production, and a commercial use to make a message appear on the back of a card.

The last two gimmicks involve Envelopes. Enveload is a super simple take on the Paul LePaul Envelope load, born out of necessity for Ben he has come up with a super simple way to create a sure-fire loading gimmick, for pennies, that can be used without having to buy expensive wallets or other devices. Again Ben shows us a routine with the envelope involving a signed card and banknote appearing in the sealed envelope.

Finally Shadow Envelope is a way of shining your mobile phone flashlight through an envelope to show that it contains a prediction or folded card of some description, you can then cleanly remove the folded item, and show the envelope empty, yet you have switched in a signed card, or a business card with a thought of word written on. Again this gimmick takes minutes to make, and is simple yet effective. Ben’s Any Word prediction is a great way to use this envelope, under the guise of a gag mind reading effect you can then cleanly pull out from the envelope a card that contains the word the spectator said moments before, and show the envelope empty. But more than this Shadow Envelope is a utility that gives a strong convincing illusion to plug into your own routines.

All in all the download runs 2 hours 15 minutes, and is simply shot, you see what you need to see for the gimmick construction, and because they are so simple to construct the DIY portion doesn’t take up too much of the video, leaving room for Ben’s thoughts, ideas and routines which are welcome additions.

Gimmick It Yourself can be downloaded from Ben’s website for £15.

Ultramodern by Ryan Matney – Review

Ryan has managed to invoke a sense of nostalgia in me with this publication. In the days of one trick downloads, and ebooks, that you can purchase instantly, with nothing more than your Paypal password, it feels good to hold a physical product in your hand. Something that you know will contain good solid commercial magic, and not a heavily edited trailer in sight.

In releasing this publication I believe Ryan hoped to capture the spirit of the magazines and trick journals of days past along with the anticipation of waiting to receive them in the mail. Lots have come and gone that I remember, Onyx, Channel One, Antinomy, Penumbra to name a handful. They all had one thing in common good solid magic from well respected magicians and you always looked forward to receiving the next issue to get that trick fix.

In current times lots of magicians are now experimenting with the self-publishing format, and it is something that works very well for this type of booklet. You receive a smart, well printed 100 page booklet containing 12 tricks. Ryan introduces each trick and they all contain black and white photographic illustrations.

To simply list the tricks would lessen the anticipation if you intend to order this, and you should. I will point out a few of my favourites however, the volume starts with Robin Robertson’s very simple quick version of the fusion plot, one of my favourite card magic plots. Staying with the simple in the spectators hands card magic, Paul Hallas’s contribution Voodoo Jokers is a version of a Steranko/Hollingworth classic. Paul has distilled this into its simplest form and it may get dismissed for its simplicity, but I can see this playing very strongly.

Steve Dusheck contributes a very commercial time-travel themed piece ideal for giving away your business card. John Carey in his usual style of simplifying method contributes a novel and easy two deck ACAAN.

Ryan himself contributes a a coincidence effect utilising a powerful Paul Cummins technique. I am a huge John Bannon fan so I read his contribution first which is an Any Mate at Any Number routine based on a JK Hartman trick, and as you would expect from Bannon you get a lot of effect for minimal sleight of hand. The last trick in the book from Gordon Bean is a version of one of Ryan’s tricks. It is a very strange, freely selected card through box routine, that again takes place in the spectators hands. It has a kicker ending they won’t see coming, and on top of all that works very well for walk-around as it doesn’t require a table.

The other tricks I haven’t mentioned I will leave you to read and digest, you should have at least some anticipation and excitement to receiving a book in the mail! I believe Ryan’s wish is to make this a regular publication and he is already soliciting contributions for volume 2, so seek him out if you have material to give. If not buy this volume and every volume after that safe in the knowledge you are receiving good solid magic, a well produced physical product, and a little bit of anticipation and excitement as you wait for it to arrive!

Ultramodern can by purchased for $25 at Ryan’s website Retro Rocket Magic

Nicholas Einhorn Bill to Marker →

Nicholas Einhorn bought the rights to Antonio Romero’s Bill to Marker and he is now releasing this through Vanishing Inc.

I got to take part in filming the trailer which you can see on the Vanishing Inc. site linked above along with my cameo appearance! This came about from attending The Session Convention back in January and the filming of the trailer happened on the last night after all proceedings had finished.

In the description on the Vanishing Inc site they tell you exactly what you get, and show you the performance. In light of the recent Dan Sperry controversy with his facebook video calling out magic producers (Vinc being one of them) for selling rubbish and not showing proper trailers I can fully endorse this product. I saw the performance first hand and Nick was kind enough to chat to me and show me the gimmick after the filming, this is a very well made gimmicked marker pen, that does the job extremely well, and Nick’s routine as you would expect is smart, engaging and makes use of the prop to its fullest, the price is surprisingly cheap for what you receive, and if you have a place for this in your show you won’t be disappointed, with this one product you are certainly receiving exactly what is described and shown in the trailer, and it is highly recommended!

At the Magicians Convention →

Review of the recent International Convention in London. I had a fantastic time and it was a great weekend with lots of talent, and some great lectures and shows, this convention is highly recommended, if you don’t already attend add it to your calendar, next years dates are the 16-18 November 2012.

Secrets of Card Magic – Christmas Offer

Chris Burton from Secrets of Card Magic wants to let people know about his membership site for people wanting to learn card magic, sleight of hand and flourishes, he has about 350 plus videos of performing and teaching.

He has put together a Christmas offer where people interested in magic can have the whole 8 phases as a one time offer without waiting for each phase which lasts a month. Saving them time and money.

Here is the offer
http://www.secretsofcardmagic.com/early-christmas-gift/

The youtube channel

http://www.youtube.com/user/secretsofcardmagic21?feature=mhee

Magic Money

Avia have teamed up with magician Pete Hathaway
to deliver their pension message in style. Pete Hathway hit the streets of Brighton and London performing street magic for people in their 20s working in the cities.

They said “We had a great time as you’ll see from our films – but we are also trying to communicate a different message. We want to demonstrate that by starting a company pension early, your money could grow …as if by magic!”

Magical Mathematics

Watch out for a review of this coming soon, I am still working my way through this but for now take a look at the press release and place your order at Amazon.

MAGICAL MATHEMATICS by Persi Diaconis & Ron Graham

The Mathematical Ideas that Animate Great Magic Tricks, after 25 years in the making and with a foreword by Martin Gardner, Persi Diaconis & Ron Graham finally reveal the secrets of amazing, fun-to-perform card
tricks—and the profound mathematical ideas behind them—that will astound even the most accomplished magician. Renowned magicians and mathematicians Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham provide easy,
step-by-step instructions for each trick, explaining how to set up the effect and offering tips on what to say and do while performing it.

Each card trick introduces a new mathematical idea, and varying the tricks in turn takes readers to the very threshold of today’s mathematical knowledge. For example, the Gilbreath Principle — a fantastic effect where the cards remain in control despite being shuffled—is found to share an intimate connection with the Mandelbrot set. Other card tricks link to the mathematical secrets of combinatorics, graph theory, number theory, topology, the Riemann hypothesis, and even Fermat’s last theorem.

Diaconis and Graham are mathematicians as well as skilled performers with decades of professional experience between them. In the book they share a wealth of conjuring lore, including some closely guarded secrets of legendary magicians. MAGICAL MATHEMATICS covers the mathematics of juggling and shows how the I Ching connects to the history of probability and magic tricks both old and new. It tells the
stories—and reveals the best tricks–of the eccentric and brilliant inventors of mathematical magic.

MAGICAL MATHEMATICS exposes old gambling secrets through the mathematics of shuffling cards, explains the classic street-gambling scam of three-card monte, traces the history of mathematical magic back to the thirteenth century and the oldest mathematical trick—and much more.