spRING – by Joonas Mengel – A Review
Props and Online Instructions
This is the Ad Copy..
spRing is a long-forgotten puzzle that’s been reworked into one of the most classic and iconic plots in magic – the linking rings.
Imagine being able to effortlessly melt a solid ring into the very coils of a tightly wound spring with a visually pleasing and buttery smooth penetration that’s done without any help of the methods typically seen in the traditional linking rings.
In fact, there is nothing to ditch or hide, and you can hand out spRing immediately before, after, and even during your performance if you so choose.
spRing is incredibly easy to perform – it will take you minutes to understand the secret and only hours to master. It’s also suitable for any type of performance and venue.
Here’s what you get:
2 high quality props
45 minutes of expert instruction that includes a multi-phase routine and many alternative handlings to craft a performance suited for you.
Peace of mind of knowing that you’ll never have to hide any gaps or extra rings.
spRing has not been made for everyday carry in mind but this is something you’ll want to carry every day!
You have to love old things made new, and the nostalgia that comes with it. I remember playing with a ‘ring on a spring’ when I was in single digits. Now, Murphy’s Magic, creator Joonas Mengel, and presenter Javier Fuenmayor have reintroduced the Ring on a Spring with a little more sophistication and handling.
The premise is… a solid metal ring, approx. 3 1/2 inches, is handed out for inspection. A solid metal spring is also shown and inspected. With little fanfare, the magician links the ring onto the spring, appearing as if he melted the ring onto the spring. He then hands the ring and spring, still linked, out to the spectators for examination.
Although the basic method is super simple, the creators have gone to the extra effort of creating a tutorial, complete with three different full performances, to demonstrate the nuances needed to make this seem to be more of a ‘linking’, as in linking rings, than a puzzle. The extra effort makes this something you can perform close up and during walk arounds. It becomes an effect.
I’m slightly torn because I like quick and easy effects that actually fool a spectator.. but.. You’re going to need to pick your audience carefully. I’m afraid the ring on a spring may be available at too many online locations and you’re going to encounter a lot of folks that are familiar with it. I suggest simply asking a spectator.. ” Are you familiar with the ring on a spring effect?”… and if they say ‘No’.. go for it. If they say ‘Yes’, change course.
If you present it as a linking effect, you may avoid the puzzle crowd altogether. I think that’s the strength of spRing, and that’s the point they teach in the tutorial. They have repurposed a classic puzzle into a new effect.
For the price.. you are paying for two quality props, and primarily, the almost one hour online tutorial. The props can be bought for a few dollars at varying places online, but all you’ll receive is perhaps a minute and a half of instructions. So… decide what the additional instructions are worth to your performance.
I know some of you would like a firm recommendation.. or rebuke.. but you’re not getting that today. Like so many other effects, your satisfaction will depend on whether you USE spRing.. or toss it in your ‘magic’ drawer. If you take time to develop your moves and patter.. it has plenty of potential in the hands of a dedicated magician. If you aren’t willing to give the time to spRing, you’re better off moving along.
spRing, although very simple, isn’t going to do all the work for you in the real world. Our audience is way more sophisticated than audiences forty years ago.. and you have to provide a well-polished effect.
Pros: Nice props. Much larger than normal spring and ring. Easy to learn. Fully examinable. All the dirty work performed under the spectator’s nose and nothing to ditch or conceal.
Cons: The only statement I disagree with in the ad copy is.. “spRing is a long-forgotten puzzle..” Considering the number of video tutorials I found on a certain online video platform.. I don’t think it’s long forgotten. Some spectators will be familiar with this effect beforehand. Price tag.. I’m starting to get comfortable with thirty dollar price tags on magic products.. and I’m guessing that’s the whole point.
This effect can be performed by any skill level magician. You’ll be performing spRing’s basic handling in ten minutes. The Video and sound quality are typical Murphy’s Magic, nothing negative to write about, and you can either watch the tutorial online or download it. Either way, you’ll have no trouble learning this easy-to-perform effect.
$29.95 .. From Murphy’s Magic and their Associates
AM/FM Deck – Michael Breggar – A Review
Deck and Online Videos & PDF
This is the Ad Copy
The perfect forcing deck for working pros and a few cons.
The spectator calls a number and deals down to that card… it is the card you predicted! Or, they just start dealing until they wish to stop. It’s the predicted card. Or… well, you get the point.
Here’s the thing…. they call the number, they remove the deck from the box and they start dealing. It ends on the force card. And then, you show that any other number would have brought them to different cards.
No static at all. It’s Michael Breggar’s “AM/FM Deck”
I don’t normally preface a review with a comment about the creator. But.. I’m a fan of Michael Breggar. That doesn’t mean I’m a fan of every single effect produced by Michael.. but I’m certainly a fan of most. That said.. I’m a fan of THIS one. Brother.. that little fact makes my life so much easier..
To quote Michael… “I cannot believe I am the first to come up with a configuration like this, though I have not seen this deck construction and general handling together. In a way, its family tree could be traced to the Svengali, Mirage, Pop-Eyed Popper, etc. gaffed decks of the golden-oldies era. Nods to one-, two-, three-way forcing decks and their ilk.”
AM/FM Deck is not a trick. It is a tool. It is an intriguing way of forcing a card or producing a card from a named location in a deck. If you watch the video, you get a good notion of just a couple of the productions you can achieve. This is much more than a.. “..deal down to a number and there’s your card..” effect. It is a series of effects made possible by being able to know, in advance, the identity of a card at a predictable location… AND… being able to convince the spectator the deck is a conventional deck, full of different cards. It’s not. But that’s the secret behind AM/FM Deck.
I don’t like to comment on reviews by fellow reviewers. It’s not nice.. and I try my best to be a nice guy. That said.. A very popular reviewer recently reviewed Michael’s deck and did his best to classify it as nothing more than a Svengali deck. It’s not. It cannot be used as a Svengali deck, as the math doesn’t gee-haw. Yes, there’s a number of the same cards in the deck, but, as Michael says, the ” deck construction and general handling ” is different from a Svengali deck.. as well as some of the other popular forcing decks. You are paying for the madness behind the method.. and there’s plenty of madness to go around. I promise…
AM/FM Deck was created using a variety of psychologically motivated moves. Michael furnishes buyers with two separate videos.. one 18 minutes long and one 30 minutes long.. detailing the why’s and what for’s. All the steps are explained and justified. Ultimately, his philosophy is..’don’t let the forcing deck become the center of attention. Bring it into play.. let it do its thing.. then take it out of the spotlight.’
Aside from forcing a card, its very basic purpose, Michael teaches a zoom show method, where a prediction card is mailed days ahead of time to the host.. for the grand reveal during the zoom meeting.
Video two, titled – More, Better, Other Tricks with the AM/FM Deck – features a variety of effects that do not rely on simply forcing a card, but expand the concept. One.. the Happy Birthday effect, begins with the spectator’s birthday serving as the numerical location. The spectator is then given a birthday card with the same card dealt to – found printed or attached to the inside of the birthday card. Another effect uses six dice to decide on a location within the AM/FM Deck. Yet another revelation uses a giant card concealed under your mat as the final reveal.
One of my very favorites is based on the classic Out For Lunch, probably by William Larsen Sr… but maybe Edward Bagshawe.. The notion is very visual and surprising.. and happens in the spectator’s hands.. always a big plus. And finally, Michael has devised a compelling use of the AM/FM Deck to reproduce an Invisible Deck effect.. except it isn’t an invisible deck effect.. much to the chagrin of the poor magician(s) who were on the edge of busting your measly carcass.
AM/FM Deck is available in Red or Blue backs.. (Bicycles) The video, although filmed in Michael’s office, I assume, is a very good production, using multiple cameras and picture-in-picture technology. The sound is ideal and everything is up to Murphy’s Magic standards.
There is also a PDF included with the videos, giving you an overview of most of the effects taught in the videos. All the basics are discussed, including the deck layout should everything become displaced.
Remember, when you purchase AM/FM Deck, you are purchasing a tool. You are given tutorials to seven or eight different effects, some which could easily be sold as stand-alone effects. Honestly. I am going to recommend this to my friends and readers. It is well worth the time and effort, and your magic will grow exponentially…
$29.95 .. From Murphy’s Magic and their Associates..
Welcome to our second special Magic Roadshow. We are going to continue to publish specials until readers email and ask us to please stop.. I like this ‘special’ thing as I don’t send out a Roadshow on a schedule. I can wait until I feel there is enough good material to make it worth everyone’s time.. mine included. This is one of those times.
I thought about writing some enticing reviews of the just passed MAGIC LIVE.. but I didn’t go.. so that was definitely a drawback. I think Scott Wells posted daily reviews to his MAGIC WORD podcast, and one of my closest magic buddies, Marty Shapiro, sent me daily updates and insights for my personal enjoyment.. but, you guys, if you didn’t go, are basically out of luck. Sorry. Go next year..
Summer is here in South Carolina.. it’s hot as hello, and there’s nothing else to say. Actually, that’s all I can say.. per my injunction – courtesy of The Weather Channel…
Also, even though Fall is upon us, there will be NO football scores this year or pumpkin planting tips… thanks to my ‘buddies’ at ESPN and HGTV respectively..
I want to take a moment to thank some friends who helped make this issue so special with their brilliant contributions:
Christopher M. Reynolds, Donavon Powell, Julie Eng, Teller, The Burnaby Kid, Kyle Peron, Michael Lyth, James Rock, and Murphy’s Magic.
Also, a special thanks to Paul A. Lelekis, Jim Canaday, Marty Shapiro, and Greg Phillips (who succeeded James Brown as the hardest working man in show business…) for their continual inspiration. Jim Canaday just published the 100th issue of his masterful ezine.. The Magic Portal. I have shared many a resource with you guys and ladies lifted from the Magic Portal… and Jim can’t claim innocence of sharing ours. In other words.. we share found resources. Join The Magic Portal at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the site at: https://themagicportal.us/
Please remember.. The Magic Roadshow is a FREE publication and does not accept, or solicit, donations. However.. if you want to remember me in your will – that’s OK.
I am now available for lectures here and abroad.. My fees are considerably less than a root canal.. unless I am scheduled for a root canal.. in which case my fees are the same as a root canal. Just kidding….. I’m not available for lectures.
( Unless you book through my wife… She booked me on a tour of clubs in Denver, Chicago, and finally Buffalo. I was gone for a solid week.. and would you believe not a single club had ANY record that I was scheduled to appear. I can’t believe their sloppy bookkeeping.. geesh..
One good thing did come out of all this; when I got home a few hours early, a strange man had broken into my home and was sitting on my couch. He ran out the back door.. but didn’t steal anything. My wife was in the bedroom and could have been accosted had I not arrived when I did … So, I’m quite the lucky guy !! )
That does it for this intro.. Remember, always be kind to others and give of your time and yourself generously.. Give blood if you have the opportunity… although the last time I tried to donate blood, they wouldn’t take it. They asked too many stupid questions.. like “ Whose blood is this and where did you get it?”..
** Want to sign up for your personal notification of every new Roadshow? Text ROADSHOW to 42828 … You will be prompted to enter your email, and that’s it..!! Absolutely No spam and 1 click unsubscribe.
• Colonel Stodare & The Riddle Of The Sphinx – Christopher M. Reynolds
• Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken – Effects – Donavon Powell
• Chameleon – Effect – Rick Carruth
• The Magic of Johnny Thompson – Excerpt – Teller (Jamy Ian Swiss)
• Behind the Scenes With Johnny Thompson – Article
• Jamy Ian Swiss and The New Yorker – Article
• Festivals – Be A Solutions Provider – Article – Kyle Peron
• King Con – An Effect – Christopher M. Reynolds
• Count Victor Lustig List… Further Reference…
• The Gentle Grafter – Free Download – O’ Henry
• The Gentle Grafter as an Audio Book – Free
• Houdini – The Right Way To Do Wrong – Rare Free Ebook
• The Right Way To Do Wrong – Audio Book – Free
• The Burnaby Bluff – Effect – The Burnaby Kid
• At The Table Live Lecture – Erik Tait – A Review – Donavon Powell
• Rick Lax Podcast – The Magic Word
• How Rick Lax Magically Pulls in Millions of Facebook Views – Article
• A Quarter-Century of Recreational Mathematics – Free PDF
•The Vault – Heavens Aces by Chris Randall – Review – Rick Carruth
• 11 TOUCH – By LongLong – A Review – Rick Carruth
• How to Vanish Any Card Instantly – Video Tutorial – Alex Pandrea
• Dice Stacking Without A Cup – DIY Utility Device – Michael Lyth
• VANISH MAGIC MAGAZINE #61 – Free Download
• Three Free Magic Apps – For Roadshow Readers – James Rock—
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity… Hanlon’s razor..
“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” Winston S. Churchill
Colonel Stodare & The Riddle Of The Sphinx
By Christopher M. Reynolds
The Roadshow is pleased to present, for the first time anywhere, the wonderful and colorful story of one of the most memorable magicians ever… England’s Colonel Stodare.
On April 17, 1865, Colonel Stodare, an unknown performer from Liverpool England, made his debut on the London stage at Egyptian Hall (a popular theatre catering to conjuring acts). His posters promised two hours of “East-Indian Magic.” He wouldn’t stay unknown for long. Colonel Stodare took the stage that night unaware that he was about to make history.
In his opening address to the audience, he claimed to perform without the aid of the superfluous apparatus that was popular amongst 19th-century stage conjurers. There would be no exotic vases, elaborate drapery, mechanical automatons, or any other cumbersome gizmos, gadgets, or contraptions sharing the stage with him. Instead, he used simple, everyday props like freshly laid eggs, vibrant silk scarves, wicker baskets, wooden tables, and items borrowed from the audience.
Before the small but astonished crowd, the elegantly dressed magician, clad in a black swallow-tail coat, double-breasted vest,stove-pipe pants, and a waxed mustache, entertained his audience with original versions of ancient Hindu illusions. These “miracles” had been performed for centuries by the mysterious religious shaman, known as fakirs, in India.
India was an almost mythic country to the citizens of Victorian England, and the tales associated with it hovered somewhere between fact and fiction. The mere name of India conjured up images of the British army, spicy curries, Bengal tiger hunts, the murderous Thuggee cult, and legends of mysterious illusions, like the Indian Rope Trick, performed by the holy fakir street performers. But, at Egyptian Hall that evening, reality imitated art as Colonel Stodare brought to life tricks based on fairy tales that were strictly the provenance of old Bangladeshi village women and drunken English sailors on shore leave. And, it all happened right before their very eyes.
First, he indulged the spectators with a deft display of sleight-of-hand artistry. One of his signature effects consisted of an egg and a silk handkerchief (the former placed in a glass tumbler on a table, and the latter held in the hands of the performer) being made to change places. Then, an adaptation of the classic mango tree illusion entitled, “The Instantaneous Growth Of Flowers.” The title of the illusion said it all: a rose seed was planted in a pot of soil and covered with a colorfully decorated cardboard tube. When the cylinder was removed, a fully grown rosebush, instantaneously, had sprouted. As an interlude between tricks, Stodare would perform acts of ventriloquism.
For his grand finale, he performed the infamous, “Indian Basket Trick”. Stodare dragged his lovely assistant, the real-life Mrs. Stodare, onto the stage. In a fit of mock rage over some minor trifle, he forced her into a low, oblong wicker basket. Bone-chilling screams reverberated throughout the tiny theatre as he pierced her body by thrusting multiple swords through the basket from every angle. The fashionable and sophisticated London audience gasped and tittered with delight as he pulled the blades back out… covered in red, dripping blood. He then tipped the basket over and removed its cover to reveal that the screaming, bloody mess, that was once Mrs. Stodare, had disappeared, only to reappear a moment later standing in the back of the audience, alive and in one whole piece.
It was the first time in magic history that an English conjurer had ever performed these celebrated East-Indian classics of illusion on a western stage. In a little over a year, after such an auspicious debut, and, on the verge of becoming a household name, Colonel Stodare, would be dead.
So just who was Colonel Stodare? We know for sure that he had never commanded a battalion of red-coats, as his title would suggest, nor had he ever smelled that explosive mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter, commonly known as gunpowder, in the heat of battle. Stodare had never seen, heard, or smelled the sights of India outside of his own imagination. The title of Colonel was self-assumed and meant to imply an adventurer or explorer of foreign mysteries. The clever monicker was pure unadulterated showmanship to bedazzle the English public.
Colonel Stodare was the derived stage name of Joseph Stoddart. He was born in Liverpool, England on June 28, 1831. Little or nothing is known of his early life or education. His father, Joseph Sr., was born in Cumberland and moved to Liverpool sometime around 1810. There, he married a local girl named Priscilla Woods. She had given birth to Joseph’s older brother, Alfred, six years prior. The boys shared features so similar, almost twin-like, that there was constant confusion between the two. This mirror-like resemblance would help cause a feud that wreaked havoc on the pair’s relationship.
Joseph, Sr., was a letterpress printer by trade and the brothers grew up reading the many newspapers and broadsheets to which he contributed. He also printed theatre posters and programs for the numerous magic shows, waxwork exhibits, hypnotism displays, circuses, seances and other popular entertainments advertised to Victorian audiences. This early exposure to conjuring helped lead the boys into the exciting world of theatrical magic.
It was Alfred Stoddart that first became an amateur conjurer, performing under the name of Alfred Inglis. He taught Joseph his early tricks and soon let his younger brother join his small act as a ventriloquist, while Alfred performed the magic. Joseph was now called Jack English, and the pair renamed themselves “The English Brothers.”
Alfred soon realized that his younger brother seemed to be a natural at conjuring. He could be suave, funny, charming, and had a dramatic stage presence. While only in his teens, he began to create his own illusions. His artistic gifts didn’t seem to stop there. Skilled with the written word, he began writing a column on magic tricks for a magazine aimed at young boys. All in all, as a magician, he was everything that his older brother wasn’t.
Alfred begrudgingly stopped performing and focused his attention as stage manager for his brother, who now was performing under the name, Mr. Stoddart. His first known solo performance was in 1850 in his hometown of Liverpool. While immensely talented, he had met with indifferent success as an itinerant performer. He was just one of the hundreds of magicians trying to make a name for themselves. Almost all the notable Victorian illusions were performed again and again by a score of performers. Box tricks, basket tricks, inexhaustible bottles, and instantaneous bouquets were seen everywhere throughout the whole of Victoria’s reign, and well into the twentieth century, too. There was nothing original about his act, until 1860, when things took an abrupt turn for the exotic.
Magic shows were one of the most popular entertainment attractions for the English populace in the 1800s. Shows were performed widely, in the back rooms of taverns, fairground tents, music hall stages, and a wide variety of other venues, bringing the popular entertainment of the day to mass audiences for the first time. Victorians also liked to drink and they lived in a society geared toward alcohol consumption. When not performing at community picnics, church socials, or for vacationers at local seaside resorts, Joseph played the dizzying array of rowdy gin palaces, beer halls, restaurants, oyster bars, dram shops, refreshment rooms and public houses that Liverpool had to offer. Drinking went on from dawn till dusk, and every hour in-between. Alfred had even begun to develop an unnerving fondness for hard liquor.
Joseph was often performing for rough crowds of pissed drunk sailors, soldiers, travelers, dock workers, and run of the mill inebriates. They’d sometimes show their appreciation for his art by throwing unpleasant substances and objects at him mid-performance. After the show these boozed hooligans would buy him and Alfred drinks; regaling them with stories of magical street fakirs who they witnessed performing grisly illusions on their tours through India; the type of things that a proper Englishman wouldn’t be caught dead doing: ramming metal spikes up their nostrils, eating shards of glass, handling poisonous cobras with their bare hands, swallowing swords down to the hilt, and sleeping on beds of nails.
Joseph and Alfred were transfixed by the dreamy tales. The stories of these tricks and the miracle-mongers who performed them were beginning to make the standard Victorian stage conjuring that the two had been practicing for years seem absolutely dull in comparison. How could making a birdcage disappear up your sleeve compare to the thrills of watching someone walk barefoot on burning coals without receiving even the tiniest blister? These were considered wonders to never be witnessed by human eyes outside the confines of India…until now.
For the next five years Joseph took those old travelers tales of Hindu miracle men and turned them into a stage act that was like no other magicians around. No longer would he be entertaining under the boring nom de plume of Mr. Stoddart, performing the popular generic conjuring tricks of the day. That persona had been replaced by something more dashing. Joseph’s new character was a bold and intrepid adventurer; a military mountebank going by the name of “Colonel Stodare”, performer of “East- Indian miracles”.
In Victorian-era England, Sir Richard Francis Burton was a national celebrity. He was an adventurer; spy; poet; linguist; and Victorian renaissance man, who had translated the erotic sex manual The Kama Sutra and the 1,001 Tales Of The Arabian Nights for English speaking audiences. The British public couldn’t get enough of him and his lusty and daring exploits. He set off a craze for all things foreign and mysterious. The true-life tales of Burton’s escapades along with the stories of the Indian fakirs magic tricks had planted a seed in Joseph Stoddart’s brain that would lead to him becoming, if only for a brief shining moment, one of the most original and innovative magicians in the history of the art.
Joseph had been performing constantly for fifteen years; five of those years spent fine-tuning his new, and mysteriously exotic, act. Now, he was ready. Like the battle-hardened soldier that he wasn’t, he geared up to make his march on London and perform at the mecca for professional magicians: Egyptian Hall. He packed up his props, his brother Alfred, and his new wife (who had joined the act despite Alfred’s protest) and Stodare & company descended upon the conjuring capital. They were ready to compete, head to head, against any act that got in their way.
Egyptian Hall, located in Piccadilly, was to magic what the Fillmore West in San Francisco was to psychedelic rock; the two were synonymous. Londoners associated the place with conjuring attractions and it came to be affectionately known as “England’s Home of Mystery”. It was built in1811 by an eccentric collector named William Bullock and was constructed as a sort of museum for his amassment of natural, historical and medical curiosities. The outside of the sandstone building, covered in smoke and grime, was adorned with faux Egyptian sculptures and hieroglyphics. The inside offered lecture halls and theatres on several floors. It had been host to many many magicians in its long history. They featured their first full-length magic show in1861. That performance was soon followed by a never-ending stream of conjurers, minor and major. It was demolished in 1905.
Playing alongside Colonel Stodare, in an adjoining theatre, was the “Wizard Of The North”, John Henry Anderson. He was most famous for being one of the first recorded magicians to ever pull a rabbit from a top hat. Andersons traveling magic show had been one of the biggest entertainment extravaganzas in the world, rivaling a P. T. Barnum circus in size. He spent money lavishly on elaborate spectacles to draw in huge crowds.
Now, at age 51, he was bankrupt and alone. The days of mindless extravagance were over. His handcrafted gold and silver apparatus had been replaced with gaudy brass and tin props. Circumstances forced him to play a small 100 seat theatre in Egyptian Hall to make a living. Unbeknownst to Anderson, this string of bad luck that was plaguing him was going to change the course of magic history and help set Colonel Stodare on the path to momentary mega-stardom.
Joseph Stoddart was full of what the English called “pluck”, meaning the courage and ability to take all challenges head-on. He had gambled on his talents and had sunk every last coin he had to rent out the small theatre in Egyptian Hall. But, he was confident in his heart that his show was something special. The act was attracting small but steady crowds who had came to see, via word of mouth, the gruesome Indian Basket Trick finale of his show. But profits were questionable and the whole enterprise seemed to be on the verge of becoming a noble failure. The mental and physical stress started to take its toll. Alfred began to drink heavily. He’d regularly down two whole bottles of port wine before retiring to bed. Joseph and his new bride had begun to bicker frequently. He had also begun to get sick often and was beginning to develop a terrible cough.
Joseph needed to turn things around fast. Desperate for cheap publicity, Joseph began spreading a rumor that his competition, the past his prime, John Henry Anderson, was, in fact, his father. Gossip soon spread that Stodare was his illegitimate, abandoned son and that the two were consumed in a family rivalry. The stunt only helped attract more people to Anderson’s show.
Joseph quickly realized that the basket trick was just too bloody and violent to attract a mass audience. What he needed was a new illusion that would grab London by the throat. Serendipity decided to step in and lend him a helping hand. The solution to his problem came in the form of a young man named Thomas Tobin.
The Victorian era was Magic’s first true Golden Age. The level of creativity the art experienced was at an all-time high. The Industrial Revolution helped usher in illusions on the cutting edge of science and technology, combining newly discovered mechanics with old-world craftsmanship. Stage magicians warmly embraced these new advancements in their art. To quote science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Thomas Tobin was a child prodigy. At age fourteen, he was a licensed architect and chemist. By the time he reached twenty years old, he had become the youngest lecturer at the London Polytechnic. In his free time, the young man called on his scientific background to invent large size illusions for stage magicians.
John Henry Anderson later regretted having turned down the opportunity to buy the young scientists latest invention. Tobin knew that Anderson had hit hard times and was certain that his wonderful new stage illusion would put the old showman back on top. All it needed was the tweaks and touches of a true artist to bring it to life. Anderson was too poor to pay the 80 pounds asking price that Tobin was charging. It was another tough break for the hapless magician.
Tobin then offered to sell the illusion to Anderson’s competition, Colonel Stodare. Even though the magician was hemorrhaging money, he bought it immediately. On August 1, 1865, Tobin and Stodare filed a joint patent on the new design in a London courthouse. Joseph knew instinctively that this was exactly the illusion he had been waiting for, and that he was the perfect choice to present Tobin’s scientific miracle as it was meant to be seen.
What exactly was this illusion that genius Thomas Tobin had invented? What was so fabulous about it that Stodare risked what little money he had left to buy it?
It was an optical formula for invisibility on-stage. Colonel Stodare was now the only magician in the world to know the secret.
For weeks, mysterious show bills had been plastered all over London, and a full-page advertisement was featured on the cover of the London Times. The announcement read: The Sphinx has left Egypt. A week later, the cryptic message changed. A new series of ads appeared, touting: The Sphinx has arrived and will soon appear.
On the night of October 16, 1865, a thick gloomy fog had enveloped London with a supernatural embrace. A mob of people queued up in the evening chill waiting, yellow tickets in hand, to be permitted entry into the ersatz Egyptian temple. It was to be the premiere of Colonel Stodare’s Sphinx Illusion. The event was to mark the conjurer’s 200th consecutive appearance at Egyptian Hall. Stodare’s carefully orchestrated publicity campaign had worked wonders. The theatre was packed on the first night as the massive crowd jostled into the auditorium. It was as if the ancient cults of Isis or Osiris had been revived, as the long line of worshippers filed in, taking their seats in this modern-day sanctum to witness this puzzling event. The small theatre held only a couple hundred people, but on this night, the room was filled shoulder to shoulder with curious onlookers; more than double the size of his normal attendance.
The London Times (October 19, 1865) described the spectacle as follows:
“Most intricate is the problem proposed by Colonel Stodare, when, in addition to his admirable feats of ventriloquism and legerdemain, he presents to his patrons a novel illusion called the Sphinx. Placing upon an uncovered table a chest similar in size to the cases commonly occupied by stuffed dogs or foxes, he removes the side facing the spectators and reveals a human head attired after the fashion of an Egyptian Sphinx. To avoid the suspicion of ventriloquism, he retires to a distance from the figure, supposed to be too great for the practice of that art, taking his position on the border-line of the stalls and the area, while the chest is on the stage. Thus stationed, he calls upon the Sphinx to open its eyes, which it does to smile, which it does also, though the habitual expression of its countenance is most melancholy, and to make a speech which it does also, this being the miraculous part of the exhibition. Not only with perspicuity but with something like eloquence, does it utter some twenty lines of verse; and while its countenance is animated and expressive, the movement of the lips, in which there is nothing mechanical, exactly corresponds to the sounds articulated.
This certainly is one of the most extraordinary illusions ever presented to the public. The speech is spoken by a human voice, there is no doubt, but how is a human head to be contrived which, being detached from anything like a body, confined in a case, which it completely fills, and placed on a bare-legged table, will accompany a speech, that apparently proceeds from its lips, with a strictly appropriate movement of the mouth, and a play of the countenance that is the reverse of mechanical. Eels, as we all know, can wriggle about after they have been chopped into a half dozen pieces; but the head, like that of the physician Douban, in the 1,001 Arabian Nights tales, pursues its eloquence after it has been severed from the body, scarcely comes within the reach of possibilities. The old fashioned assertion that King Charles, walked and talked a half an hour after his head was cut off, is to be received, not as an illustration of defective punctuation, but as a positive historical statement. Davus might have solved the Anthropoglossus, but Colonel Stodare presents us with a Sphinx that is really worthy of Oedipus.”
Three sides of the stage were concealed by curtains. Stodare entered, carrying a small box which he placed on a three-legged table. The front of the box was hinged and opened to reveal a human head wearing an Egyptian headdress; its eyes shut. Stodare waved his wand and spoke in a commanding tone, “Sphinx, awake!”
The head slowly opened its eyes, as if gradually gaining consciousness. It looked first to the front, then to one side and the other. With a strong gaze, it peered back at the hundreds of dumbfounded eyes. The Sphinx’s lips turned upwards into a broad smile. Under the instructions of Stodare, the head began to answer questions. At one point it recited twenty lines of poetry. Eventually, it closed its eyes and Stodare shut the box. The audience thought the trick had reached its finale and shouted for an encore. Stodare calmly addressed the onlookers:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad that the Sphinx has afforded you satisfaction, and I should only be too pleased to be able to indulge the desire which you kindly testify of seeing it again. Unfortunately, this is not possible. The charm by which I am enabled, as you have seen, to revivify for a moment the ashes of an ancient Egyptian, who lived and died some centuries ago, lasts but for fifteen minutes. That time has now expired, and the head which has astonished you with its mysterious eloquence has again returned to its original dust”.
As he finished the last words of his speech, he reopened the box. The head had vanished, leaving in its place a handful of ashes. Loud gasps of recognition swept through the theatre. Carrying the auspicious box to the footlights, Stodare looked out over his audience. The throng of theatergoers sat motionless as if holding their breath. Their mouths were agape as they greeted the performer with momentary stunned silence.
The crowd was astonished by the surreal sketch that they had just witnessed. The bewilderment it created was sweeping. Onlookers were jolted out of their trance as a single pair of hands slowly began to clap. The remainder of the crowd, still marveling, slowly began to applaud in unison until the noise became deafening. The walls of Egyptian Hall vibrated with the ovation.
As Joseph, his wife, and Alfred celebrated their accomplishment that evening, Joseph began to have one of his now regular coughing fits. He brought a white cloth handkerchief to his mouth as he violently hacked and wheezed. When the coughing fit was over, the snow-white handkerchief was speckled with blood. He had always been in delicate health since childhood, but this was no normal illness brought on by fatigue. This was evidence of what Joesph had begun to fear most. He had contracted tuberculosis.
Despite the disturbing medical news, Stodare had much to be happy about. His 80 pounds gamble had paid off. The new illusion began to attract crowds at once. After working six months without a break, and on the verge of giving up, his groundbreaking theatrical venture had become a financial success. After 15 years of paying his dues, Colonel Stodare was now an “overnight success.”
The Sphinx astonished London audiences. Debates raged around the city as to how the effect was accomplished. From the dingiest pubs to the most high-class literary salons, Londoners from all social classes chimed in with an opinion. It was suggested that the head was an automaton and that Stodare, a ventriloquist, was throwing his voice. An article in the satirical magazine PUNCH,( a Victorian-era version of The National Lampoon or The Onion) claimed to reveal the mystery of the trick. It humorously alleged that the secret lied in the use of a drunk and belligerent assistant hiding beneath the table. The spoof article hit closer to the truth than they could have imagined!
Alfred’s alcoholism had begun to cause a lurking unease in Joseph. He was constantly drunk. He would stumble into rehearsals reeking of gin and sweat, thus getting sloppy in his behind-the-scenes duties. To pick up the slack, the now successful Stodare sent for a fellow magician in Liverpool named Firbank Burnham to act as a sort of protegee. Alfred became resentful of his diminishing role in the act as his brother relieved him of his stage manager duties and demoted him. An old show business proverb states, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” From that point on, Alfred would be acting in the smallest part in the show. He would now be playing the role of the Sphinx. Joseph tried to soften the blow as best he could, reminding Alfred that, as playing the Sphinx, he had the most crucial part in the success of the show. To Alfred, he was now nothing more than a head in a box.
If you’ve ever heard the expression, “Its all done with mirrors,” you know now that this is the trick that prompted the expression. Its an explanation for illusions frequently offered by audiences. This is normally as inadequate an explanation as “Its up his sleeve!” for sleight-of-hand performances. In this instance though, they would be right.
In reality, mirrors were fixed between the slender table legs. They were placed at a 45-degree angle so that the reflections of the curtain sidewalls appeared to the audience that they had a clear view behind the table. Stodare approached the console from the front so that his legs didn’t appear in the mirror. Alfred, concealed by the V-shaped mirrors, was able to crouch beneath the table and put his head through a trap door and into the box to transform into the Sphinx.
Along with the box office receipts from the Egyptian Hall shows and private engagements too plentiful to count, financial worries were now a thing of the past. Just when they thought that things couldn’t get any better, Colonel Stodare and his mysterious Sphinx were cordially summoned to Windsor Castle by none other than Queen Victoria herself. A small advert in the London Times read:
“STODARE- 363rd REPRESENTATION
Theatre of Mystery, Egyptian Hall
MARVELS in MAGIC and VENTRILOQUISM as performed by command before Her Majesty, the Queen, and the Royal Family at Windsor, Tuesday evening, Nov. 21, 1865. The marvelous SPHINX, the Birth of Flower Trees, and Stodare’s celebrated, “Indian Basket Feat,” as only performed by him. Every evening at eight; Wednesday and Saturday at Three. Stalls may be secured in advance at the box office, EGYPTIAN HALL, open daily from 10 till 5; and at Mitchell’s, 33, Old Bond Street—Admission, 1s., 2s,; stalls 8s—” Almost miraculous.”–Vide “Times.”
The Queen was known in magicians circles to be an avid fan of the conjuring arts. Over the years she hosted several command performances by various entertainers, (as an interesting side note, Prince Charles was inducted into the Magic Circle, a conjurers fraternity, in 1975 when he performed his version of the classic cups and balls trick.) Twelve years prior, she had hosted Colonel Stodare’s rival, John Henry Anderson. She now wanted to see for herself the mysterious illusion that had perplexed all of London. One of the cardinal rules of performing magic is to never, ever, ever repeat a trick to the same audience. Colonel Stodare gladly broke that commandment when, in compliance with a request from the Queen, he performed the Indian Basket Trick and the Sphinx Illusion twice.
While Stodare and the rest of the troupe were performing for the Queen, Alfred was left behind, drunk, and in a state of brooding melancholy. The command performance was too important an event to take the risk. The reputation of the act wouldn’t survive if there were any drunken mishaps at Windsor Castle. There was bad blood now between the brothers, and it was about to get worse…much, much worse.
After the news of the successful performance at Windsor Castle, Stodare was flooded with exclusive engagements of all types:
“STODARE—NOTICE—The usual representation at eight o’clock WILL NOT BE GIVEN THIS (Saturday) EVENING, Colonel Stodarehaving been honored by a command to appear at Marlborough House before H.R.H. The Prince Of Wales. The afternoon representation will take place as usual at the Egyptian Hall at three o’clock.”
As his success grew, so did the complications of tuberculosis. His coughing fits were becoming just as blood-soaked as the climax to his Indian Basket Trick. He finally confided in his older brother about his severe illness. Alfred’s response to this serious news was to ask Joseph if he could take over the act after his brother had died. Joseph was livid and told him no. He then informed him that he had been secretly grooming Firbank Burnham to take over the act at the time of his passing. Alfred felt betrayed. The next day he packed up his belongings and left for good. It was the last time he would see his brother Joseph alive.
Alfred Stodare had revived his former magic act, bringing Alfred Inglis out of retirement. He dusted off his old tricks and took them on tour through the provinces. Some of the venues he played could hardly accommodate ten people. He was lucky to get crowds half that size. One night after another disastrous performance, an audience member mistook Alfred for his brother, Colonel Stodare. This case of mistaken identity would set the wheels in motion a cunning plan. Just when Alfred thought he had sunk as low as he could go, he embarked upon a criminal act that would sever ties with his brother permanently.
One morning, as Colonel Stodare entered Egyptian Hall hall to prepare for the afternoon performance, he was greeted with a quizzical look from one of the theatre’s staff members. “Back so soon?” they asked. He thought nothing of it as he entered the auditorium. It was then and there that he received a shock worse than his tuberculosis diagnosis. The theatre was completely empty. All the props to his show had vanished. As he interrogated the Egyptian Hall staff, the clues they offered brought the perpetrator of the crime into focus. Alfred, a doppelganger for Joseph, had snuck into the Egyptian Hall in the wee hours of the morning and looted the theatre. The staff had thought nothing of it. They just assumed that it was Colonel Stodare.
His brother, and partner in magic since childhood had stolen everything. But props weren’t the only thing that Alfred had snatched. Alfred had also swiped Joseph’s stage name, Colonel Stodare. He then began striking out on his own to capitalize on his brothers’ notoriety. There was plenty of money to be made after the glowing reviews of Joseph’s command performance for Queen Victoria.
Alfred toured the small country towns, far from the seething metropolis of London, playing tiny theatres. He’d plaster the small hamlets that he tramped through with inaccurate posters touting his show. He was attempting to dupe the public into thinking they would be seeing the real Colonel Stodare perform the same tricks which were presented at Windsor Castle.
An employee from Egyptian Hall had discovered Alfred’s ruse. The furious Joseph took out adverts in many provincial newspapers denouncing Alfred and the stage show. He warned that an impostor was misleading the public into thinking they would be seeing the real Colonel Stodare. Alfred, aware of Joseph’s campaign against him, fled as far away from London as he could. He beat a hasty retreat, traveling 232.8 miles away from the watchful eye of his angry brother, to Brussels, Belgium, where he carried on using Joseph’s act…along with his identity.
The stock in trade of any conjurer consists of lies and electricity. A magician must be an exceptional liar. And the magician, in many ways uses the same exact approach as a confidence man. But, there’s a fine line between the art of the conjurer and the art of the con. Somewhere along the way, Alfred made the switch from being a magician, practicing the art of honest deception, and crossed over into the opposing camp. He was now nothing more than a common grifter. Based on news clippings from his brothers’ sold-out show in London, he was able to swindle investors out of the necessary money to open his own theatre in Belgium.
The feud between the two brothers would never get the chance to be reconciled. Soon after his debut in Brussels, his brother Joseph would be dead. This is one of the last newspaper adverts (May 4, 1866 ) to run before his untimely passing:
“STODARES -419th- REPRESENTATION, Theatre Of Mystery, Egyptian Hall. Stodares celebrated MARVELS of MAGIC and VENTRILOQUISM, as performed by him by command at Windsor Castle, before H.M. the Queen, November 21, 1865, and twice before H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, June 6, 1865, and March 10, 1866. The new sensation, the “Marvel Of Mecca”, the Sphinx, and Stodare’s celebrated Indian Basket Feat EVERY EVENING at 6; Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8. Stalls may be secured in advance at the box office, EGYPTIAN HALL, open daily from 10 till 5; and at Mitchell’s, 33, Old Bond Street—Admission, 1s., 2s,; stalls 8s— “Almost miraculous.”–Vide “Times.”
As Colonel Stodare was packing for an exclusive engagement in Paris, his lungs collapsed, due to complications from tuberculosis. As he lie on the ground suffocating, his life flashed before his eyes. It was glorious! Joseph Stoddart, aka Colonel Stodare, had scaled a peak that the average magician dare not climb, and, just like that, it was over. What the Gods giveth, the Gods can taketh away. He had left Liverpool unknown and was now leaving this earth to take his place amongst the stars in Heaven.
His widow carried on the act briefly under the name of “Madame Stodare”, with the aid of Firbank Burnham. An announcement in the London Post (December 12, 1866) read:
“Madame Stodare”, widow of the late Colonel Stodare begs to announce that the theatre of mystery, Egyptian Hall, is OPEN for the season. “Madame Stodare’ will present the “Sphinx”, “Marvel Of Mecca” and the “Indian Basket Trick” assisted by Mr. Firbank Burnham( pupil of the late Colonel Stodare), in Colonel Stodares royal entertainment of magic. Doors open every evening at 7:30; Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 9:30. Admission is 1s. and 2s. Stalls 8s. Schools and children half-price. Seats may be secured at the box office from 11 till 6 and at Mitchell’s, 33, Old Bond Street—Mr. James Weaver, manager”
Both “Madame Stodare” and Firbank Burnham eventually faded into obscurity.
After news of Joseph’s death, Alfred returned to England and continued to take his purloined version of his brother’s famous act around the country. His alcoholism had taken a heavy toll. He had hired a ragtag assortment of fellow problem drinkers to play the part of his assistants. Since the show was barely making money, he was forced to pay his entourage in the form of rotgut gin. The once astounding show had become an embarrassment. It was the beginning of the end for Alfred Stodare. He had become what Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli would have referred to as an “arch mediocrity.” His final performance was in the small town of Ormskirk, where he played the town hall on August 2, 1867. The show was a complete disaster.
The unsatisfied spectators caused a variety of problems. The public was charged an exorbitant fee to witness the sad spectacle. They watched incredulously as Alfred and his lackeys stumbled and slurred their way through the performance. Perhaps they felt the need to get the most show for their money. A group of unruly youths had crept up close to the edge of the stage, took aim and began to assault Alfred and the Sphinx with paper pellets. They laughed wildly as Alfred blathered his way through the onslaught as if nothing was happening. The Sphinx broke character and began to hurl expletives in a thick cockney accent. Things got far worse.
A few stray wads of paper landed against the mirror. The pellets bounced, fell to the floor, and were doubled by the reflections in the glass, exposing the secret of the illusion. The crowd left the town hall howling with laughter. Soon, other performers were copying the effect, as the secret of the sphinx became public knowledge amongst magicians. Then, as weeks gave way to months, the illusion that had once been on the tip of every tongue in London had become yesterday’s news. The fickle public soon gravitated towards other magicians with newer illusions.
Alfred’s body was found weeks later in an empty room in a decrepit London boarding house. Lying next to him were three empty bottles of gin and a copy of his late brother’s posthumously published book “Colonel Stodare’s Fly Notes; Or, Conjuring Made Easy.”
Not unlike the legendary blues guitar player Robert Johnson, there are only two known pictures of Colonel Stodare in existence. One is a hand-drawn profile portrait. The other is a photograph of him standing next to his famous illusion “The Sphinx’. Magician Ellis Stanyon secured the pictures of the mysterious Colonel in 1901, claiming in a short newsletter article he wrote: “The photo and the sketch had come to be secured at not some little trouble and expense. They are probably the only pictures in existence, but we feel amply repaid by being able to place, permanently on record, the main events in the life of such an illustrious magician as Colonel Stodare.”
In 2002, across the pond in America, the ghosts of Stodare and his Sphinx Illusion were resurrected, hovering like specters at an exhibit entitled: “Magic; the Science Of Illusion” at the science museum in Saint Paul, Minnesota. There, a modern version of Thomas Tobin’s formula for invisibility was put on display to teach about the science of optics behind famous illusions.
Like the finale of his famed Sphinx Illusion, the name Colonel Stodare, the story of his rise to the top, and his tragic death are now a pile of ashes. His name now is nothing but dust in the wind, but his legacy to the art of magic has been documented in one obscure book: Professor Hoffman’s Modern Magic, published in 1876. It revealed the secrets behind three of Stodare’s tricks: the egg & silk trick, the Indian basket illusion, and a detailed chapter on the Sphinx. The book has been in print for 143 years. As long as it continues to live amongst each succeeding generation of magicians, so will the name of Colonel Stodare.
Christopher M. Reynolds
Effect Break: Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken
Not one.. not two.. but three different turns on a classic effect first shared by Lamont Ream and Michael Ammar. Creativity in spades!
I think it is high time for me to drop an Effect Break in amongst Reviews and Articles. I would like to share with you Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken.
Wait. What? I am not really going to call it that am I? Oh. Apparently I am. Carry On.
Many years ago I learned The Mind-Reading Chicken from Michael Ammar’s Easy To Master Card Miracles Volume Seven.
This is a Routine from Lamont Ream that was changed a little for the Ammar series, and in it a selected card was revealed in a very cool manner utilizing an egg. I am not teaching that. However, I always liked it. Additionally, I like to take things out to the ridiculous. Sometimes this is a thought exercise and other times it is to see why it should not be done. In this case I think it may be a little of both.
In this Effect Break I will be discussing history, development, and three setting based versions of Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken.
Still with me?
So what is Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken I hear you ask (Well… I don’t. The Chicken does.)? It is just a change to the ending and the procedure of The Mind-Reading Chicken. The big changes between the two Routines are that the card is signed and the card ends up genuinely inside the egg. It is utterly ridiculous and wholly unnecessary, but it sure is fun.
I chose to pursue the Effect of an object appearing in an egg because, as stated earlier, I like to explore in the ridiculous. An objects appearance inside of an egg is in no way a new concept in Magic. Here is a very brief list of appearances of this concept throughout just the last 150 years:
Borrowed Ring in Egg- Modern Magic by Professor Hoffman (1876)
– Conradi & Tuch- und Ei-Kunststück- Der Zauberspiegel Friedrich W. Conradi-Horster
(1896) Silk To Egg
– Combination “Card in Egg” Trick- The Conjurer’s Monthly Magazine (1906) TNR Card
Revelation in Egg
– Messages in Eggs- The Jinx 1-50 Unknown Contributor (1937)
– Hard Boiled Miracle- The Phoenix 1-50 Bruce Elliott (1942) Nickel To Egg
– Card in the Egg- Wand- Tarbell Course In Magic Volume Two Unknown Contributor
(1942) TNR Card Revelation in Egg
Dr Elliott released a Card in Egg routine (Taught by Alan Marchese in a recent release available through Vanishing Inc.) but I have been unable to locate it (Possibly in Genii?)
I will not be discussing any of the full methods from the Routines listed above. Nor will I be revealing Lamont’s method. Oh. I also will not be revealing the one taught in The Mind-Reading Chicken. I highly recommend that you look into those versions on your own as they are much less ridiculous that what I will be sharing with you here.
So what on Earth will you be discussing you ask (Don’t forget… I have a Chicken that can hear you…er… read your mind)?
The first version of the Effect that I would like to share with you is impromptu.
Impromptu in the sense that you do need Playing Cards…. And an Egg… And a Receptacle of some sort… And a wet wipe or towel… And a Ziploc Bag… And some skill… And you will probably have had to have read this. Other than that, completely impromptu.
The Procedure is as follows:
1) Have a card selected and signed.
2) Have said card returned to the deck.
3) Control selection to top of deck via your favorite method (Who else loves via your favorite method?).
4) Execute a Card fold via your favorite method (There it is again). Personally, I like KFC from Michael Kaminskas.
5) Place the folded card into a Thumb Palm.
6) Have an Egg selected (unless you only have one… Then… No selection necessary).
7) While holding the Egg you will be able to conceal the card.
8) Grab the Receptacle.
9) Crack the Egg and let its guts, and the signed selection fall into a waiting receptacle.
10) Consider cleaning your hands because… gross… And put the card in the Ziploc bag before you give it to your Spectator because… again… gross.
So there you have it. A totally 100% impromptu signed Card in Egg.
But wait! There is more!
I think it is now time to take a moment to discuss Made for Camera Magic. Most gripes amongst Magician’s seem to be something along the lines of, “You can’t actually do that in real life.”, or, “That only works for camera.”
I am not saying that this is not true. I am just saying that, contrary to popular opinion, a lot of what is seen that is Made For Camera can actually be done in person too. It just takes a lot of practice or adjustment to get it down at a level that would allow for that.
Just because a Performer executes something differently in person versus to a camera does not mean it is any less valuable. Think of it as doing an Effect with a specific technique for one angle and using a different technique for another angle. Neither technique is more or less valuable as long as they allow the Performer to accomplish the goal.
Made For Camera Magic has a place. It generates interest in our Craft through primarily visual engagement. It provides an opportunity to showcase Effects and Routines that an Entertainer can perform in a manner which may be more efficient for their desired perception. It affords an opportunity to Laypeople for seeing other things that the Entertainer can do that may not align with their direct needs for Entertainment.
So what does that have to do with Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken? I am glad you asked…
The made for camera version of Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken may just be the simplest of the three that I will be presenting to you here. Of course by simple I do mean…. This version requires the most extensive setup.
You will need Eggs (get some spares for… reasons)… A deck of cards… A random dummy card (does not matter what as you are going to destroy it basically) A number of duplicate cards (we will use the seven of spades for this example) that is equal to the number of eggs you are going to prepare… A sharp thing (I use an X-Acto Knife with blade #NotSponsored)… If you are anything like me, something to clean up the inevitable mess the first few attempts… And a Receptacle of some sort…
The other thing you will need is a Stooge… Er… Completely Random Assistant
For the sake of this explanation we will say there are 7 Seven of Spades’ and 6 eggs. Have your Assistant sign six of the seven of spades’.
While they are doing that you need to prepare your six eggs.
To prepare the eggs-
Fold up your dummy card into quarters.
Fold it again into eighths (do not crease it super hard. For the preparation phase you want it loose).
You are going to need to cut a slit in your egg that is slightly wider that a playing card that has been folded into eighths (This is going to be wider than you think because of the curvature of the egg). If you cannot do this by eye, and who on Earth would have that odd skill, then I recommend drawing a line on the egg with the card lined up alongside it.
Press the card flat against the egg with the short edge “up” towards the pointy bit of the egg (Pointy bit is not the technical term, but I could not figure out what it was called. The non-blunt end is what we are going for here). Look at how much space it takes up in the egg. When you make your mark for your cut do so at the top of where your card would go into the egg that will allow for the card to actually fit into the egg.
Take your sharp blade and prepare to cut an egg..
Disclaimer: If you are a child get an adult to help with this if needed. If you are an adult and need help, get a child. They can probably do it better than us anyway.
I have found it helpful to begin by lightly scoring the line at a slight upward angle (This will allow later for the card to slide inward smoother without catching on wayward shell edge).
Once you have cut through your line you are going to need to cut another that is down from the first line spaced a little further than the thickness of the card that is folded into eighths.
Cut this second line the same way as the first, but at a slight downward angle.
Next cut a line that connects the two lines at their borders (the angle is really not too much of an issue here surprisingly).
You should now have a rectangle of eggshell and a rectangle of eggshell shaped “hole” cut into your egg.
Take your dummy card… And shove it into the rectangular hole gently…
Not all the way.
Just enough to make sure it fits…
Pull it out.
Enjoy the goopy goodness that is stuck to it.
Now take one of the signed seven of spades, fold it into tight eights this time, and put it in the egg in the same manner.
Congratulations! You have now prepared an egg. Now do it five more times and put all six eggs in a carton.
I will wait…
Okay. That bit of Ridiculousness is now over with. On to the steps.
The Procedure is as follows:
1) Hand the deck to your “Spectator” and have a card freely selected and signed, and replaced in the deck. This is made WAY easier because your Spectator is well aware of what card they should choose.
2) Have your “Spectator “select a random egg in accordance with your patter.
3) Remove the egg with the slit away from the camera and make do whatever your patter supports with the egg over the cards.
D) Have your “Spectator” verify the signed selection has vanished from the deck (wink, wink).
5) Have your “Spectator” hold your receptacle.
6) Crack the egg and let the guts fall out into the receptacle along with the card mess.
7) Open the card up to display.
That is it for that version. There are, of course, modifications that can be made. Adjustments to match your Presentation. Let your “Spectator” crack the egg. I leave that up to you.
Remember, this version is designed to be filmed. It is not going to require being examined. It will require some acting from yourself and your Assistant.
Time for the At The Table version.
This one is the heavy one.
Then in the immortal word of Ace Venture, “All righty then.”
For the At The Table version you will need… Playing Cards…. And Eggs… An unprepared egg carton (the lid will help you honest)…And a Receptacle of some sort… And a wet wipe or towel… And a Ziploc Bag…
You will need to prepare one egg in the manner in which you did for the Made For Camera version. This time though you will not pre insert a card into the egg ahead of time. Instead you will be doing that in the course of the Routine. Basically, cut the opening in the egg and put it back in the carton of eggs in a position where the Spectator’s will not see what you have done to it on casual display.
The basic procedure is as follows”
1) Have your Spectator select and sign a playing card from the deck.
2) “Lose” the card in the deck and secretly control it to the top (via your favorite method- I use a Double Undercut).
3) In the course of witty and/or sharp banter fold the card into quarters (via your favorite method-I use a Mercury Card Fold).
4) Hand the deck to your Spectator to hold.
5) In the Process of retrieving the Eggs add the final fold to the card (tightening up the folds as you go). The card is going to go into a Thumb Palm at this point.
(This next step is the big step)
F) Display the eggs to your Spectators and have them select an egg. This is an arbitrary selection because you are going to cheat here. As you go to remove the egg rotate the carton toward yourself and simply remove the egg you have prepared. In the process of this removal simply load the Thumb Palmed card into the egg (Practice the action a few times and you will see that this is actually very simple to
accomplish).Your thumb can actually be used to push the card fully into the egg in a very natural seeming manner.
Important information about things in Step F-
First, the folded card in Thumb Palm will be hidden by the top of the egg carton in the display of the eggs.
Second, the selected egg is arbitrary because when you remove the egg the lid will be obfuscating (I love that word) the eggs and you can remove the prepared egg.
Third, nothing has happened yet at all in the Spectators’ opinion so you have a relaxed atmosphere to accomplish all of this. Fourth, do not feel guilty or rushed here because (see third) you really do not need to feel that way.
7) Proudly display the egg and wave it over the deck your Spectator “has been holding this whole time”.
8) You have two options now.
First- Ask your Spectator to remove their selection from the deck. They will be amazed it is not there. Bring out your receptacle and clearly crack the egg in a way that destroys the evidence (This is REALLY easy). The egg stuffs and a folded up card will now drop into the receptacle.
Second- Break the egg in your receptacle. The egg stuffs and folded up card will drop into the receptacle. Let them take a moment to decide they need to look through the deck they are holding. Prompt if necessary.
9) Very Openly remove the card from the egg gunk.
10) Open it up very slowly for the reveal.
11) Put the card in the Ziploc bag before you give it to your Spectator because… icky…
12) Consider cleaning your hands… again… gross.
There it is.
Three different settings based versions of Return of the Mind-Reading Chicken.
Was this really necessary?
No. Not at all.
Did the Routine add anything original to our toolboxes?
So why. Why would you subject us to this I hear you ask (Did not need the chicken for that).
The purpose of this Effect Break was to provide a Routine that is designed to be Performed across three settings. I did not provide patter for you because that is not what this is for. If you read my article in the Special Edition#1 of The Magic Roadshow I touched upon the idea of two different mindsets amongst the recent generations of conjurors.
What I have provided here is an example. Good or bad is up to you to determine.
-An example of a way to satisfy both arguments.
-A Routine that is inherently the same whether At The Table, Made For Camera, or even “Impromptu”.
I hope you enjoyed my first Effect Break. I hope to provide more in the future. They will likely be just as ridiculous as this.
*I would like to thank Lamont Ream for permission to put this out there in front of you readers.
**I would like to thank Nathan Kranzo for his assistance in the research for this Routine.
CHAMELEON – Magic Effect
This effect was recently featured in The Magic Portal’s 100th edition and was first published a number of years ago in a Roadshow far, far away… It has been re-written for clarity.
It’s nice to have your own, personal magic guru. I have one, and her name is Carolyn. Most people know her as my wife, but few know that she does double duty as both my life partner and my backboard… a backboard of course being a tennis term for a wall you relentlessly hit balls against.. only to have them endlessly return. You can’t get anything pass a backboard..
Imagine a chameleon, sitting in a tree, confident in his surrounding and his natural ability to hide himself from his prey. Imagine the chameleon, turning to move from one limb to another, and realizing that he’s sharing the limb with a hawk. The hawk’s not fooled. The hawk see’s the movement and quickly recognizes the chameleon for what it is…
The Chameleon.. that’s me… The Ladyhawk.. that’s my wife.
I picked up my current favorite deck from the coffee table and sat next to Carolyn on the sofa. She knew what was coming, and with a slightly annoyed look, she put down her phone.
I looked through the deck and removed five cards: a six of spades, three of clubs, Ace of hearts, three of diamonds, and eight of diamonds. I wasn’t ‘locked in’ to these five cards, per se, but I am locked in to five specific cards.. as you’ll see. I mixed them a little and spread them face-up into a fan so we could see the faces. I asked her to pick one of the five, remove it, and give it the once-over.. She picked the Ace of Hearts.
After begrudgingly examining the Ace, she gave it back, I still held the fan, so I effortlessly and openly slid it into the number three position, in the exact center of the small packet.
I closed the fan and turned the packet over.. still in the left hand. I gave it three quick Monge Shuffles.. ( I slid the top card into the right hand, put the second card on TOP of this card, the third card on the BOTTOM, the fourth on top, and the last card on the bottom. If you do this three times.. the cards return to their original positions.)
” Watch as I magically remove the Ace of Hearts from the pack..” I performed a little make-believe move and pretended to take a card from the center of the pack.
I ‘showed’ her the imaginary ace, and then pretended to put it in one of my pockets for safe keeping.
With the packet face down in the left hand, I reached with my right thumb and middle finger and grasp the top card by the LEFT top and bottom corner and turned the top card over with much the same motion as opening the back cover of a book. I moved the card off the stack, still holding it between the thumb and middle finger, and held it for Carolyn to see.
“You can see, this is NOT your card..” and I dropped it several inches, face up, to the coffee table. She agreed.. as my stellar performance continued..
I took the second card and turned it with the same motion as the first, commenting on it, too, not being her card. It was dropped to the coffee table, face-up, on top of the first card.
I then pivoted both the THIRD and FOURTH cards as one, showed them to my nemesis, and casually LAID them on top of the other two. So far, so good. She didn’t notice the double lift or her Ace under the bottom of the card she just saw.
Lastly, I flipped the last card for her to confirm it wasn’t hers. I used that card to slide UNDER the stack on the table and flip all the cards over.. face-down. The last card she saw is now the top card on the face down packet.
“OK.. where’s the Ace?” she murmured.
“Remember Sweetie.. It’s in my pocket..”
I picked up the face-down packet and put it back into the left hand.. I flipped the top card again, just as I had done before, except this time I let the card slide back onto the top of the packet. ( At this moment, Carolyn was looking at four face down cards with a face up card on top of the packet.)
“Again, this is not your Ace, correct..?” to which she agreed. I removed the card from the top of the packet and dropped it onto the coffee table. I performed the same move again with the second card and Carolyn again agreed that it was not her card. I lifted the THIRD CARD ONLY and flipped it over exactly like the other two.
” Not your card, right? ”
” No, it’s not my card..”
I pointed to the pocket supposedly containing the ace and reminded her once again that it couldn’t possibly be her card, as we both knew her card was in my pocket.
In that instant, as she involuntarily cut her eyes toward the pocket, I used my thumb to slightly pull down on the bottom card so I could lift the top face-up card, and the card under it, the face down Ace, as one… and drop it onto the other two on the coffee table.
** Because the card under the third card is the face-down ace, I need cards with a white border, just in case these two card separate as I lay them down. I don’t want to give away that I’m lifting a face-up and a face-down card simultaneously.
I flipped the last card in my hand, showing her that it wasn’t hers, and put it face-up on top of the other four.
Checking for a reaction, I saw a very foreign look; one that seemed a little bemused and restrained, but still slightly curious.. A foreign reaction to me.
” So, where’s the ace really? ”
” It’s right here..”, .. and I reached into my shirt/pants pocket and removed the Ace of Hearts.
I gave her a few seconds, or maybe gave myself a few seconds, to ponder the outcome. Although it may have appeared to a stranger that I was on the cusp of achieving the Holy Grail of my measly card career, what I was about to reveal next would probably get me kicked out of my magic club.. But, I was confident Penn and Teller had done worse…
” Sweetie.. You know I can’t keep a secret from you – the Ace was in my pocket before I began the trick.”
I could see her take a deep breath, and then exhale a relieving sigh, as I laid the Ace down on the coffee table, keeping it separate from the original packet.
“What would you have done if I had picked another card..? ”
” Well, if you had picked the three of clubs, I had it right here..” as I took the three from my shirt/pants pocket and put it, face-up, into the left hand.
What Carolyn didn’t see was.. as I reached with my right hand to take the three from my pocket, I plucked a small piece of double-sided tape from my belt with my left hand, a piece that had been very secretly, and very loosely, placed there beforehand.
With the Three (or whatever) now in my left hand, I reached for another card in another pocket with the right hand. Sweetie was watching my right hand pull cards from my pockets, and didn’t notice as I took the small piece of tape, stuck to my left index finger, and stuck it to the back of the Three.
” And if you had picked the Six, I had it right here in my other pants pocket, and the Eight was right here in my other shirt pocket, and the other Three was here in my back pocket..”. ( Of course.. these cards can be anywhere, including in an index in one shirt pocket )
As I removed these cards from pockets, I dropped each one into the left hand on top of the three of clubs with the tape on it’s back. Then all four cards were dropped on top of the ace already on the table. I could see a slight knowing smile cross her lips.
I reached down and gently picked up the five cards taken from my pockets. After squaring the five cards thoroughly, I gave the center of the cards a little squeeze to secure the three of clubs to the face of the ace and turned the packet face down. I also gave all the cards a quick mix.
Oh, one more little bit of magic..”
I shook the small packet back and forth a couple of times with my left hand. I paused, then removed the top card with my right hand, turned it for Carolyn to see, and DROPPED IT face up to the table. I repeated this with the second card, then the third card, and finally.. the fourth, and last, card… She knows what a double looks like, and my dropping each card to the table was just enough to convince her I wasn’t holding a double..
Her smug smile was gone.. So was the Ace of Hearts..
I reached for the original packet of cards, still laying face-up on the coffee table, and with my index finger, pushed the cards apart. You could clearly see four face-up cards and one face-down card in the center of the pack.
” Flip it over, sweetheart..”
Carolyn reached for the face-down card, pulled it from the packet, and dropped it face-up onto the table.
It was the Ace of Hearts.
Somewhere in the wild, a chameleon sharing a limb with a hawk was spared as a sudden gust of wind from the north shook the limb the two were sharing and forced the hawk to spread her wings to maintain her balance. Tucking them back against her sides, Ladyhawk was disappointed to see that the chameleon was gone. Had he changed colors and blended with the leaves, or had he fell from his perch?
It didn’t really matter. Because on THIS day, at least, Mr. Chameleon wasn’t destined to be anyone’s Lunch…
All that’s required is five cards, generally three red and two black, a small piece of double-stick tape, and five duplicate cards to match the five picked from the deck.
Aside from a couple of double lifts, this effect is basically self-working.
** If you’re confident enough, you can skip the double-sided tape and simply perform a double lift. I like using the tape because it allows me to handle all four cards very loosely.. and drop them to the table…
Take the five duplicates and put one in each pocket, all in one pocket, one in a pocket, one under the TV Guide, (We live in the ’70s), or wherever you’re comfortable. All that’s necessary is that you remember which location contains what card. Loosely stick the double-stick tape on your belt, and you’re set…
Of course, pretend to put the chosen card in the location that actually contains a duplicate of that card.
If you will set up the cards as suggested and then simply read the story and perform the tasks as you read, it will work beautifully for you, as it does for me.. You can easily master this effect in an hour or so.. and have an effect that looks and plays like a minor miracle..
The Magic of Johnny Thompson – Excerpt
From the Introduction by Teller, and republished with permission from Julie Eng and Magicana.
Al Baker: “Most magicians stop thinking too soon.”
“There are three kinds of gum in Tomsoni & Co. For prolonged chewing, Pam uses sugarless (for dental health). Then she secretly switches in a kind that Tomsoni can stretch about a foot – like gum in a cartoon – when he gets his fingers stuck in it. By her last entrance, she has switched it yet again so that she can now defy Tomsoni by blowing the perfect bubble in his face.
The latter two gums must be pre-chewed, starting at a precise time before the show, so they will be an exact constancy to stretch and bubble on cue.
There is a moment when one of the doves drops a huge, moist turd on Tomsoni’s lapel. It’s a trick done by stealing and ditching a gaff containing a secret formula for comedy bird poop that will not stain a tuxedo.
There are lots of magic theory books. They teach ‘acting principles’ and ‘composition principles’ and ‘presentation principles’. They are fun to read and sometimes thought provoking. But performers who have spent tens of thousands of hours onstage rarely write such books.
Those performers know that there is just one principle: Keep working after anybody else would quit. Search – for years if necessary – till you find the perfect gum, the ideal poop, the sentence or the silence that makes the idea sing.
What does all this have to do with the book you have in your hand?
My childhood magic books were wrong. Originality isn’t the first step; it’s frequently the last. When we know what has gone before – know it not from skimming a book or watching a video, but from doing it the way it was intended to be done – then we’re equipped to take a piece of magic to the next level..”
Festivals – Be A Solutions Provider – Article
How solving THEIR problems… can solve YOUR problems.
Too many entertainers hit the festival market with how great they are. This is fine to be proud of yourself and your show, but if I am a festival person, I want and need more than that. I need and want someone who I can benefit from and who can solve some of the problems I am faced with each year. I need what is called a “Solutions Provider”. A solutions provider becomes very valuable to your client and your perceived value in their eyes becomes much greater.
To many festival clients, an entertainer is nothing more than another product they pay for, use, and throw away when they are done. It is sad to think of it this way, but this is very often the case. As an entertainer who wants to keep working with these festivals year after year, I have come to learn that building relationships with these clients means I have to become more than just a product to them. I have to add value to what they do. I have to listen to their needs, meet their needs and show them how they can benefit from this.
A festival prospect wants someone who understands that their festival committee is doing the jobs of 15 people but 3 people to do it. They want someone who can understand that on any given day, their committee and helpers are pulled in 15 different directions.
Remember that the art of success in festivals is to always listen to the prospect. In listening, you can really find out what their needs are and change a negative into a positive by being a total solutions provider. Being a solutions provider does not mean that you have to give in completely without getting anything in return. It simply means to listen to what they say, find out their needs and offer a mutual solution.
I have found that there are various degrees of entertainment at the festivals I work. These range from wonderful and fantastic performers to those you wonder how they even tied their shoes in the morning. I have found that it really does vary but it seems like it is the smaller festivals that are more likely to have the entertainment that is questionable.
The reason for this is that the local festivals are usually put together by a volunteer group that changes from year to year. These people are not sure of what entertainment is out there or how to go about finding it. They often will use references from friends or relatives and this does not always lead to quality.
However, this is a great thing for us festival magicians. By this, I mean that we can be a solutions provider for them easily. They are often very happy and eager to get my information and I can provide solutions they are wanting and craving.
The local festivals I have found are often committee based. Most of them are more than willing to not only want your information but any solutions you can provide to them to make their jobs even easier. This is a great way to build a relationship with these folks early on.
Train yourself to listen to their needs and you can also use this line. “What can I provide to you for next year that can really help make your festival event the very best that it can be?” or…
“I know how tough it is putting together entertainment for your festival each year and I would love to help make it easier for you if I can. I have performed at numerous festivals just like yours over the years and perhaps my knowledge might be of help to you in solving some of your issues or problems. PLEASE feel free to let me help you if I can be of service.”
This usually always gets them talking. Most of the time they want to talk to someone about everything they have to do. LET THIS HAPPEN! This is a gold mine for you if they start talking about other things. It allows you to listen in and to solve the problems that they mention. Through this process you not only get in for the entertainment but you can often times help them through other services you can provide.
I am happy to announce that my newest book, “FESTIVAL MAGIC”, is finished and is NOW available at http://www.kpmagicproducts.com/Festival_Magic.html . This 112pg book is filled with the most up to date information on how anyone can work and succeed in the festival and fair markets.
As always, I encourage you the readers to let me know your thoughts. So if you have any thoughts on my articles or suggestions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me directly at- KyleKellyMagic@gmail.com . I would love to hear from you…!
Yes.. this issue has a distinct CON slant, and leading the way is the infamous con man Count Victor Lustig.. and an effect inspired by his misdeeds.
The world of the magician and the world of the con artist are inexorably linked. Lies and deception are their stock in trade. But, there’s a fine, almost invisible, line between the art of conjuring and the art of the con. It’s the difference between a Lance Burton and a Lance Armstrong; one tells lies for fun… and the other for profit. That’s where the similarities between the two professions diverge. People step into a magic show fully aware that they’re about to be bamboozled; they actively want to be fooled. Nobody wants to be the victim of a crime. A skilled con artist can manipulate a victim’s reality at a higher, more insidious, level. They heartlessly toy with those persons most cherished beliefs about reality.
The world of magic is filled with household names: Harry Houdini, Doug Henning, David Copperfield, David Blaine, Criss Angel. The clandestine world of the con artist also has its superstars. Wall Street swindler Bernie Madoff is only one of the more infamous offenders in a rogues gallery of hustlers, cheats, and grifters. They’re the heir apparent to the one name that towers above the rest: Count Victor Lustig.
Lustig was an aristocrat in the hallowed halls of crime; one of the smoothest, most ingenious, con men ever to swindle a buck out of an unsuspecting chump. He was born in Austria-Hungary in 1890. By the age of nineteen, he was fluent in five different languages, using his silver tongue as his weapon of choice while embarking on a life of crime. His most famous and audacious swindle involved selling the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, to unwitting investors; not once, but twice. He had convinced them that the famed national treasure was to be destroyed for scrap metal.
In this sleight-of-hand card trick, we’ll recreate the story of Lustig’s other infamous con, the “Rumanian Money Box.” This is an old fashioned, “pick a card, any card,” style trick with some simple sleight of hand thrown in for good measure.
Count Lustig had written a list of ten “commandments” that every con man should follow. This was first on the list: Be a patient listener ( it is this, not fast talking, that gets a conman his coups.) As you’ll soon read, I didn’t follow Lustig’s advice. You don’t have to follow my long-winded script word for word.
MAGICIAN: Count Victor Lustig was one of the most notorious con men in history. In the 1920s he sold the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France (not once, but twice) to unsuspecting victims. One of his other infamous cons was dubbed “The Rumanian Money Box.” Lustig hired an engineer to design a wooden box that was fitted with a series of dials, levers, knobs, bells, and whistles. It was roughly the size of a large shoebox and had a narrow slot cut in either end. As Lustig sweet-talked his victim, he explained that the mahogany box was an illegal money duplicating machine. He calmly assuaged their fears by telling them that it wasn’t producing counterfeit bills (a federal offense that could lead to doing prison time) but was indeed printing legitimate United States currency.
1.) Have the spectator pick a card (we’ll use the ace of hearts to illustrate) and have them write $1,000 on the face. Place the signed card back into the deck and secretly bring it to the top (by whatever method your skill level allows. If your skill level is zero, then I recommend reading, “The Royal Road To Card Magic” by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue. Learn a few things and then come back. I’ll be waiting impatiently for you.)
2.) With the chosen, signed card now on top of the pack, perform a double-lift, showing the second-to-top card ( example: the eight of clubs.) The signed card will be hidden behind it. Lift the two cards as one and thrust them halfway into the middle of the pack.
MAGICIAN: Lustig inserted a $1,000 bill in one end and a slip of blank paper in the other. He began to fuss and fidget with the levers and dials. After a moment, both the money and the paper were sucked into the machine. Lustig would tell his dupe that the paper had to sit in a special chemical mixture for six hours. After the six hours were up, Lustig would fiddle with the knobs and an identical $1,000 bill would emerge from the contraption.
3.) Hold the pack in your left hand, holding it by the sides (between the thumb on one side and the middle, ring, and pinky fingers on the other) with the index finger curled underneath.
4.) Tilt the pack upwards a little to show that the eight of clubs is actually in the center, then tilt it downwards slightly. Grasp the protruding cards with the right hand, (the thumb at the top, the forefinger pressed against the outer edges, and the middle finger on the face) and push the two cards, always as one, into the deck about half an inch. Draw the upper card outwards again, so that the tip of your left forefinger can engage the outer end of the lower card, and push it flush into the deck. This action is hidden from the spectators by the upper card and by the sloping position of the pack. The eight of clubs is now placed into the middle of the deck, and, unbeknownst to the spectators, the ace of hearts is the card protruding slightly from the pack. Push the protruding card (the ace of hearts masquerading as the eight of clubs) into the deck, leaving about a 1/2 inch sticking out.
MAGICIAN: Let’s see what happens when I put this eight of clubs through the “Rumanian Money Machine.” Will you please name your chosen card.
5.) With his right hand, the magician pushes the card into the pack; in doing this, he strikes it rather forcibly. The force of the push shoots the card out the opposite end of the deck. Slowly rotate your wrist to show the spectators the card projecting from the other end of the pack. If you strike it hard enough, it should come out the other end about an inch or so. Allow them to remove the protruding card from the deck. In the spectator’s imagination, the eight of clubs instantly transforms, with the mere flick of the wrist, into the ace of hearts.
MAGICIAN: Lustig’s victims would then pay him $30,000 for the box. He then had six hours to get out of town before his targets realized they’d been duped. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get to the bank to withdraw money. (A very nice gentleman offered me the opportunity to buy the Brooklyn Bridge for a steal ! )
Christopher M. Reynolds
Count Victor Lustig List… Further Reference…
– Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con-man his coups).
– Never look bored.
– Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
– Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
– Hint at sex talk, but don’t follow up unless the other gent shows a strong interest.
– Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
– Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).
– Never boast. Just let your importance be quietly obvious.
– Never be untidy.
– Never get drunk.
The Gentle Grafter – Free Download
What do you get when you combine a gentle con man and one of the 20th centuries greatest writers? This series of short stories reveals it all..
There is humor in grafting and O Henry manages a light touch. He even has his heart-of-gold thieves touch their marks, ever so lightly. No violence and no bad language, although do not be alarmed with some of the period jargon.
To address sensitivities prevalent among popular writer’s in the closing years of the 19th century: Women are rarely spoken of with respect and such females as make their way to these pagers are less than fully developed characters. African American get very little in the way of respect. There is some humor at the expense of Christians and almost no mention of Jews. New Yorkers seem to get the most pointed barbs although it is assumed that Farmers were made to be the unintentional place for an honest con artist to refill his wallet. ( Think “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”)
I created this PDF myself.. just for you guys… 163 pages.
Houdini – The Right Way To Do Wrong – Rare Free Ebook
As Houdini himself notes in the introduction this book has two purposes: to protect the public from the swindles within by greater knowledge, and to entertain. It achieves both masterfully with clear, concise explanations of the various frauds and cons. While the setting is of course that of Houdini’s time (this book was published in 1906) you may notice the ancestors of various modern phishing schemes and banking scams within.
Houdini was such a famous escape artist and illusionist that his name has entered language. Those expecting a biography of the great man will be disappointed, although he does take diversions into discussions of rope tricks and a few other escapes. Most of the “ways to do wrong” inside are fascinating and skillful in how they part the target from their money and valuables without violence, but many of the perpetrators were still violent criminals. If there is a take home message it is that if somethings sounds too good to be true it probably is.
The performer pulls out five ESP cards and a dollar bill, explaining that they’re going to play a game of numerology… just as soon as he can find one last thing. The performer frantically searches through his pockets, finally producing an invisible die. The spectator is invited to roll the die to make sure it’s genuine. The spectator agrees, wondering what mental ward the performer escaped from.
After arranging the ESP cards in a row, the magician crumples up the dollar bill and asks the spectator to place it on any of the cards. The performer asks if the spectator would like to change their mind. They can, if they’d like. After making their final decision, the spectator is invited to roll the die three times and announce which numbers come up. Let’s assume the spectator says five, three, and six. “That’s 14,” the magician says. “Would you like to roll another number?” The spectator decides to roll again. That number is added to the total, whereupon he’s offered the chance to roll again.
Let’s say he declines.
“OK”, the magician says. “Normally, we would start counting from the side, but I want you to choose not only where we start, but which direction to go in. Which way would you like to go?” Let’s say spectator says to the left. “My left or your left?” the performer asks. Their left, they say.
Starting on the count of one, the dollar bill is moved from one card to the next, stopping when the count reaches the spectator’s total. The ESP card the bill lands on is the plus sign. “You know how I said this was going to be a game of numerology?” says the performer. “Well, I’m afraid to say that I’ve won. “He turns over the four other cards.. each bears a normal back. The magician then turns over the plus sign card to reveal that it has a big, bold X drawn on its back.
The spectator can truly start wherever they want. The spectator can truly start counting in whichever direction they want. The spectator has a free choice of how high to count. The spectator can do the counting themselves. The performer doesn’t have to conceal five outs for this trick. There is nothing besides the five cards, the dollar bill wager, and the invisible die. There’s no sleight of hand involved.
The trick relies on a specific combination of principles that I’ll call it The Burnaby Bluff. The idea is this: if you have N number of items, then even with the above conditions, you can play a game that results in needing only (N – 1) / 2 outs. Meaning, with five items you need two outs, with seven items you need three outs, and so on. Conversely, if you have a system of N outs, then you can accommodate up to (2 x N) + 1 items.
II. ESP Cards Layout
For the Burnaby Bluff to work, you need to arrange the items in an alternating pattern of 010101010, where 0 is an indifferent item, and 1 is any item you have an out for.
Imagine the cards are laid out as in the figure. The two outs will be for the plus sign and the square. To make it easy, mark the back of the plus sign card with a big X, and on the dollar bill write, “You will end up on the square.” As a mnemonic, consider that the plus sign looks like an X, and the square resembles a dollar bill.
As said previously, it doesn’t matter where you start, which direction you start counting in, or how high you count. What matters is the strict nature of the count. Before we start, though, put your nger on the circle and count one. Move it to the plus sign and count two. Move it to the wavy lines and count three. Move it to the square, and count four. Move it to the star, and count five. Move it back to the square and count six. Move it to the wavy lines and count seven. Keep going for a while. You’ll notice that no matter how high you count, every time your finger lands on the plus sign or the square, you have an even number, and every time your finger lands on any other card, you have an odd number. We’ll call this process “Counting on the Card”, meaning that you start the count on a given card.
Now, try this. Put your finger on the circle. Move it to the plus sign and count one, to the wavy lines and count two, and so on. This is the exact the opposite of the procedure above, you start the count on the first move, rather than the first card. We’ll call this, appropriately enough, “Counting on the Move”.
In performance, you will encounter one of four scenarios:
1. They start on an indifferent card and say an even number. Count on the Card, and you will end up with a force card.
2. They start on an indifferent card and say an odd number. Count on the Move, and you will end up with a force card. (Examples 1 and 2 match the description above)
3. They start on a force card and say an odd number. Count on the Card, and you will end up with a force card.
4. They start on a force card and say an even number. Count on the Move, and you will end up with a force card.
Test this out with various start points, counting directions, and random numbers. So long as you follow the above, you will end up on a force card. And if this seems like a lot to remember, I assure you it’s not. In performance, the procedure becomes self-evident. A few dozen run-throughs will reveal the procedure’s logic.
Most tricks of this nature require an out for each eventuality. With more outs comes the risk of clutter and clumsy handling. On the other hand, the Burnaby Bluff reduces the number of necessary outs while maintaining an acceptable number of items. Personally, I’m happy keeping it to five items and just using the two outs. The trick is sitting in my wallet right now.. five cards with the dollar bill wrapped around them.
What you sacrifice in choosing the Burnaby Bluff over similar routines is directness. In a standard multiple-out routine, they can merely point to an object, later shown to match your prediction. This one involves counting. As such, you really want to drive home the fairness of the proceedings.
The counting itself is theatrically motivated by calling the trick a “game of numerology”. Get them to accept that and you’re golden. Before the counting actually starts, make sure they understand that the rolled-up bill will be going back and forth over the cards, rather than jumping to the other side when one end is reached. I use the phrase like a guard on a prison wall” to drive it home. Counting on the Move seems to me to be a bit more natural than Counting on the Card, so I script the latter thusly. “OK, your chose this card, yeah? This is the first card? OK, that’s card number one. Count with me: one…” Move to the next card. “…Two…” Move to the next card, and so on.
When you arrive at the final card, really twist the knife on how all those choices turned out. Reiterate the conditions, which are completely true. If they ended up with 37, then make a big deal of saying, “If you’d only said 36, you’d have ended up with this card. If you’d only said 38, you’d have ended up with this card. Maybe if you started on a different spot, or gone in the other direction, you’d have ended up here, or maybe here. You made all the choices, correct?” Then reveal the prediction.
Every time you do this trick, there’s a 40% chance that they will choose a force card right off the bat. You could just reveal the prediction at that point, but I’d rather go through the game, especially because if they do choose a force card, there’s a 50% that they will also end on that same force card, which allows you to play up the fact that fate, for whatever reason, seemed to really want them to have that card. At that point you can reveal the prediction and take whatever extra credit you want.
If the spectator tries messing with you by apparently rolling the same number multiple times, apologize and say, “Oh, that must be the loaded one. Here, use this one.” Another bit of business, from Karl Fulves’ Self-Working Mental Magic, is to make sure to ask for the die back at the end. I try to look annoyed about having to ask, as if they were going to walk off with it.
At The Table Live Lecture – Erik Tait – A Review
I would like to get this out of the way early. I am not surprised that I enjoyed this. While Erik Tait did not fool Penn and Teller he did win the I.B.M. Gold Cups Close Up Competition. He is obviously a talented Magician. But he is much more. While it is true he is quite the thinker I think, possibly more importantly, Erik knows how to apply what he thinks to constructing Routines that are Practical for Real World use.
Nothing that he teaches on this At-The-Table Lecture is unusable in a Working setting. Erik shows a wonderful ability to construct modular Routines that can be incorporated into different places within an Act. He explains which items he considers appropriate for openers and why.
That leads me into the next portion of this review. What is in the Lecture? That is a tough one. Erik teaches seven full Routines. If you have ever wanted to do a Svengali Deck Routine with a Non-Gimmicked Deck this is the place to learn it. I have been doing a version of this for years. I walked away with some visual elements that have elevated my Routine to another level. A Bar Trick with a Bit of Cork and a Borrowed Dollar is now in my regular carry and is another Routine that I frequently did prior to this Lecture that I am adjusting because his version is better.
This Lecture is about SO much more than the Routines within. Erik teaches his work on the One Handed Top Palm, the Dribble Pass, the Click Pass, and Culling. Additionally, he shows uses for some traditional card gaffes that most of us have lying around. The Coin Coaster could have been released as a solo release and people would have bought it. If you are ready to try something bold and knuckle busting take a stab at the Spanish Train Change.
The level of difficulty in this At-The-Table Lecture is definitely not for the Novice. While Erik does teach the techniques necessary to accomplish the Routines, the Novice would have to get VERY comfortable with them before they could even attempt to work with the material. That said, I would still recommend this Lecture to a Novice for the Theory contained within. The section on the Fool Us and I.B.M. Routines is a great window into the process a Professional goes through when developing something. Limiting yourself to Create is a mindset that is not often considered, but it generates some phenomenal results. Erik explains very well how he uses this concept in his approach to creating Magic.
Much like every At-The-Table Lecture the video quality is top-notch. Multiple demonstrations of Technique are used to capture the important elements. The audio is phenomenal. Perhaps it is a little too good. There are points where you can hear EVERYTHING. Certain things, like Clicks or Riffles, are very much louder than you would expect them to be. This is just nit-picking on my part to be honest as I really did not mind it. The quality of what has been provided in this Lecture more than compensates for that very minor annoyance.
At The Table Live Lecture Erik Tait April is $7.95- From Murphy’s Magic and dealers who carry their product line.
Rick Lax is one of my favorite performers. He is often spot-on with his selection of magic, not to mention ‘perhaps’ the most-viewed magician in the world, thanks to his Youtube videos.. Scott Wells Magic Word podcast are always a pleasure..
Listen or download…
How Rick Lax Magically Pulls in Millions of Facebook Views – Article – Lauren Orsini for tubular insights..
To hear Rick Lax tell it, he’s just a regular guy in Las Vegas: a practicing magician, a non-practicing lawyer, and a creator who likes to sit at his laptop at the local Starbucks and make low-budget videos to post on his Facebook page.
He also happens to run Facebook’s #1 global entertainment channel by an influencer. With more than 846M monthly Facebook views, Rick Lax’s Favorite Videos has attracted 3.9M followers with its clickable videos and reshares.
Unlike many of the influencers who routinely occupy the top of Tubular’s Facebook rankings, Rick is not an organization or content company. He’s just one entertainer, and he’s only recently begun expanding his media empire (and to family and friends at that).
Rick may be a regular guy, but his traffic is anything but. We sat down with this unique Facebook creator to ask about his insights on generating organic Facebook views on a budget, plus what he’s doing that companies with 10x his advertising budget should be doing, too.
** Editors note: If you want more views for your Youtube vids.. this is the perfect article for you..
A Quarter-Century of Recreational Mathematics – Free PDF
The author of Scientific American’s column “Mathematical Games” from 1956 to 1981 recounts 25 years of amusing puzzles and serious discoveries – by Martin Gardner
“My ‘Mathematical Games’ column began in the December 1956 issue of Scientific American with an article on hexaflexagons. These curious structures, created by folding an ordinary strip of paper into a hexagon and then gluing the ends together, could be turned inside out repeatedly, revealing one or more hidden faces.”
Mr. Gardner, a hero to many mathematicians and magicians alike, spent a good portion of his later career in Hendersonville NC.. about 30 minutes from my home. That encouraged me to read his books and study his columns. I couldn’t help but become a big fan. This nice 8 page PDF is a good cross-section of his interests, and the ‘puzzles’ fans around the world cherished. He was a lover of cards; and many of his puzzles featured card related questions. Even if you aren’t a big fan of puzzles, you will enjoy this small collection, and hopefully, seek more of Mr. Gardner’s vast volumn of work..
The Vault – Heavens Aces by Chris Randall
Review by Rick Carruth
Produce four Jokers at your fingertips and instantly change them into the four Aces!
The perfect card effect for noisy performing locations.
The magician magically produces four Jokers out of thin air and then… the four Jokers instantly change into the four Aces! This highly visual effect looks incredible!
Born and Raised in Las Vegas, Chris Randall has swept the world of entertainment. His style is a mix of sleight of hand, comedy, and sizzling hot illusions. He has appeared on The Masters of Illusion TV show as well as a regular at the famed Magic Castle in Hollywood. He is a multiple award winner, including 1st Place in Stage Magic from the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Do you like flourishes? Do you like effects that can be performed entirely in-the-hand? Heaven’s Aces ticks both boxes.
The ad copy, thankfully, is totally true. There’s no hyperbole, and nothing to criticize. I like that.. The four Jokers are presented, one at a time, in a very fancy manner.. They are switched individually to the other hand.. and, the next time you see the Jokers.. they’ve become the four Aces. It’s really that sudden.
Chris Randall is one of my favorite performers. Maybe that makes me a tad bias.. but I doubt it. I have been a fan of his magic for years and admire his willingness to perform complex magic one moment.. and classic magic the next. He is extremely popular at the Magic Castle, and has won numerous awards.
I know.. winning awards doesn’t mean this is a solid purchase… and I don’t want to imply it. But in this case there is certainly a correlation. What I want you to do is visit the Murphy’s link I’ve posted at the end of the post and watch a ‘performance’ of Heaven’s Aces. The visual will give you a much better understanding of this effect than my words.
This is one of those effects that, once you’ve seen it, you’ll have that magical tug to learn it. I did. In all fairness, you’ll not learn it overnight. It does require a certain amount of practice to make it look like Chris’ version. Most good effects do..
Everything is good: Video, sound, angles and teaching. You won’t feel like somethings amiss. Everything you need to learn Heaven’s Aces is in the instantly downloadable video. You use your own Aces and Jokers, as there are no gaffs or special prep. It’s all technique.
I do have a special fondness for Heaven’s Aces since restaurant magic is, almost, my sole performing method. The fact that it’s quick, quiet, and doesn’t require a table are all pluses. I recommend it !
$9.95 From Murphy’s Magic and their friends who carry the Murphy’s line of magic.
11 TOUCH – By LongLong – A Review
Review by Rick Carruth
The Ad Copy..
11TOUCH is our first exposure to the incredible magic teaching work of China’s underground magician, Longlong. With years of accumulation and clever thinking, he has created numerous sleights and routines.
Now, he has decided to publish some of them! In 11TOUCH, you will learn 11 strong sleights for cards and coins, and he will teach you how to fool others by only using a sleight!
Of course, these sleights have infinite applications, and they will make your routine more pure, instead of relying on gimmicks. We always think that integrating sleights into routines is the best way to embody the value of sleights. This can also help you understand the sleights in a more in-depth way.
In the magic world, sleights are voluminous. Let’s start with 11TOUCH and embark on our long journey of discovery into sleights.
There are 11 effects involved:
1. Anti Retention
2. Coin Change
3. Cut Palm
4. Ego Shift
5. Fan Change
6. Fm Vanish
7. L Change
8. Long Vanish
9. Shadow Change
10. Sound Retention
11. Thrum Change
First off.. I don’t know LongLong. He is, according to the ad copy, an underground magician from China. After reviewing his download, I still wouldn’t know LongLong if I saw him.. but I have a pretty good idea what his hands look like…
Now that I have your upmost attention.. or not.. I can comment on the copy. There are no outlandish claims, no mendacity, untruthfulness, fibbing, fabrication, perfidiousness, lack of veracity, telling stories, misrepresentation, prevarication, equivocation or fibs..
I agree 100% that 11TOUCH is a great collection of sleights. Nothing more.. no routines or effects. Sleights. And I have NO problem with that. There are 11 different ‘moves’ designed to make your current effects that much stronger. There are card moves, there are coin moves.. and then more card and coin moves.
I’m not going to break down each sleight, as it’s truly hard to properly describe a move, but each is designed to improve something you’re currently doing, I assume. Even if you aren’t performing something complementary at the moment, I’m willing to bet you will look for a reason to perform some of these slick sleights. I have a friend who just ordered a gaffed coin, the only gaff on the download, because he saw possibilities.
Most of the coin sleights are vanishes, of course, but one features a change of one coin for another.. and all are very visual and almost stand-alone sleights. Another features a ‘flick’ of a coin from one hand to another that results in a vanish. Nothing is a true knuckle-buster, but they are the type sleights that WILL require some degree of practice.
The card sleights include a couple of shifts and/or palms, a fan change, and a middle of the pack change.
The video quality and sound are first class. There are multiple camera angles and many slow repeats, giving you a chance to see the moves from different angles multiple times. There isn’t audio instructions.. everything is visual. There was an interesting Texas and Chicago blues soundtrack.. a la Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buddy Guy, and excellent lighting.
I am a value guy. I will pay twenty bucks for a couple of sleights I’ll actually use for the public. I know some of you will have reservations spending that for a download without effects, but IF you are a regular performer you’ll quickly see the value. This download isn’t for beginners.. you won’t know what to do with it.. but the rest of you guys will be really impressed by LongLong’s skill.
How to VANISH Any Card INSTANTLY – MAGIC TUTORIAL
Take any playing card and make it vanish into thin air. That’s what we are learning in this magic tutorial. Using a little sleight of hand, you can now too manipulate any playing card! Ok, that sounded like a late night informercial – but hey it’s true. BOOM :))) tankai
Dice Stacking Without A Cup – DIY Utility Device & PDF
Michael has created a PDF to show his method of creating a card capable of stacking dice – without a tube. Follow his directions and you can stack dice behind a signed card.. leaving the spectator clueless.
This requires a slight bit of DIY.. but should be very easy for almost anyone to make in very short time. Give it a try.
Three Free Magic Apps – For Roadshow Readers
“Just a quick note to share a few readily-available magic bits and pieces I’ve created over the years… I’d rather share directly with Roadshow readers than on magic boards.”
http://predictr.co – predict anything on a borrowed phone. I originally created this few years back, only it had been broken for a while – it’s now back up and running and works very nicely. It’s by far the strongest of the three tricks here.
http://acaan.co – the one you already know about, which although I’m rather fond of, I’m yet to discover anyone has ever used it (including myself!).
Feel free to share.. all free to use, of course.
Editor’s note: If the effect has a PDF.. read it. They are short, but it will assist you greatly.
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That does it for this special issue. I hope you found something to help your magic along. Remember, if you have something you would like to see published on the Magic Roadshow site.. send it to: TheMagicRoadshow@gmail.com