Magicians Blog


Boxed Set by John Guastaferro

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

John G MagicIf you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the work of John Guastaferro. In fact, while I may not have written a formal review of each of his products, have no problem recommending each and every one of them. I have them all, and they’re great.

John’s latest release is an instant download produced by Penguin Magic and Vanishing Inc. Two tricks for ten bucks; both are workers. First up is a handling of Paul Harris’ Reset. I’ve spent years working on the plot, and this version is among the most elegant I’ve seen. I’ll admit that I’m a bit married to my own handling for this venerable plot, but John’s solution certainly is a crowd pleaser. The routine is within the reach of the average card man. His clever use of the card box isolates the two packets and makes the clean up look ultra… well… clean.

The second routine, Ace Case, also makes use of the card box. The four Aces are lost in the deck. One by one they are located with the box playing an active role in each revelation. Cards penetrate the box, appear mysteriously on top of it, and travel magically inside. There is no setup, and again the handling isn’t difficult. I can see a lot guys using this.

You are treated to studio performances of both effects plus full explanations. The entire download runs about 25 minutes. As usual, John’s teaching is excellent. For ten bucks, you can’t go wrong. Highly recommended.

-Available for $10 from Vanishing Inc. Magic



Not magic… but magical: Pilobolus Dance Theatre “Shadowland”

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013



New Genii Magazine Column

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Genii Magazine new columnistSome of you may have seen Richard Kaufman announce in the most recent issue of Genii magazine that I will be joining the staff as a columnist. I’m very excited to be a part of this great magazine with a 75+ year tradition. The columns should begin appearing later this year. I’ve planned some really cool things I’ll be sharing in the column that I look forward to sharing with you.

If you’re not a Genii subscriber, it’s really a great value… especially considering that you get digital access EVERY BACK ISSUE of Genii included with your subscription… and it’s all fully searchable! I’ve already burned up more hours than I can count searching through the archives.



Magic Trick Review: Rapture by Edward Boswell

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

I recently met Edward Boswell briefly at the Magifest convention in Columbus, Ohio. He showed me a few effects that I really liked, but the one that left me scratching my head the most was his amazing production and subsequent vanish of a card box around a deck of cards. One moment he was holding a deck, and spreading it for a  selection. Then, with a wave of his hand, the box suddenly appeared around the deck. He tilted the deck up so I could see that the card case was actually surrounding the cards. Before my senses could recover the box faded away as if by magic. It looked like trick photography. He then proceeded onto his next effect as if it was all part of the journey. Here is the demo:

Our time together was brief so I was never able to coerce him into tipping the method. However, the first thing I did when I got home was to type Edward’s name into Google. Luckily for me, I found that he HAD released his work his magical looking sequence with the card box. In fact, it was being marketed by Theory 11. It took me all of about two seconds to click “Add to cart” and within minutes I was greeted by an instant download video of Edward teaching his effect, Rapture.

I stood on pins and needles hoping that the method was going to be reliable and workable. The fact that I had already seen him do it live gave me hope, but I’ve been burned by my fair share of magic effects that look great in certain situations but don’t stand up in most real world environments. Was this going to be another instant download product that I would watch once and never think of again?

Luckily the answer was a resounding “No.”

Rapture is an outstanding effect from a young man who I predict we will be hearing much more about in the future. The gimmicks required to create the effect are fairly easy to make and Edward explains their construction quite clearly. I was so enamored with the trick that I made up a few sets of gimmicks in one sitting. It’s something I definitely anticipate using.

After a bit of arts and crafts time, you’ll be left with the tools necessary to assault your audience’s senses. However, you certainly won’t be performing this straight away. I wouldn’t say that the sleight of hand required is difficult, but it is a bit knacky. Basically, you’ll have to learn how to handle the gimmicks naturally which will take a little getting used to. Luckily, this is the kind of trick that’s actually fun to practice in the mirror. In fact, it looks so good that, even after you know the method, you’re likely to spend some time just watching yourself do it over and over again.

Overall, I have to say that this is a fantastic offering. If you put in the limited amount of required work into this, your spectators (and even other magicians) won’t stand a chance. This is a one-two punch of clever gimmicks and sleight of hand. It’s only a brief moment of magic that is over in a blink of an eye, but if your audience members are anything like me when I saw the effect, it’s something they’ll be thinking about all the way home after your performance. Highly recommended.

- Available from Theory11.com for $19.95



Magic Trick Review: Shadow Thief by Bizarro

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Bizarro Shadow Thief magic trickThis is a short and sweet review of a brand new product from Vanishing Inc. Shadow Thief is the brainchild of Bizarro that introduces a practical, easy-to-do method of manipulating a shadow. Here’s the breakdown of one version of the effect.

Two cards are selected and lost in the deck. The magician removes his cell phone. holds it face down, and uses a flashlight app (you could also use a real flashlight) to illuminate the floor. Waving his hand under the light, the spectators can see shadows dancing around on the floor. Suddenly the image of a playing card appears in shadow form. (Imagine a shadow of a playing card with the pips cut out). It is the first selected card. With focus still on the shadow, the magician waves his hand over the card once more. The cut out holes in the shadow transform into the second selection. The card is turned face up to reveal that not only have the holes transformed, but the actual card has changed as well. All may be examined.

This is a very practical method for a stunning effect. It is definitely a “right place/right time” kind of thing. This probably isn’t something you’re going to bust out at your next kid’s show, but it’s perfectly suited for walk-around or bar situations. Any dimly lit environment will work.

The package comes complete with two handmade, special cards. The cards are easily remade, so you’ll never have to purchase replacements. The instructional DVD is pretty basic with regards to production values, but Joshua Jay and Bizarro do a fine job of teaching the effect and its different handlings.

This is a unique card effect that your audience will remember for a long time. It would also make a great showpiece for a television spot. Overall, this is a fine product. If the effect sounds intriguing, I’m confident you will be satisfied with the method. Recommended.

-Available for $20 from Vanishing Inc. Magic



Magic Book Review: Random Acts of Magic by David Acer

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

So it turns out that I filmed some reviews that I must have forgotten to post. This one covers the work of one of my favorite performers, David Acer. Since I filmed the review, David has released a new book called More Power to You that acts as sort of a “Best Of” of his material. I haven’t picked it up yet (primarily because I own all of his previous works), but it has received some very positive feedback. I’d definitely suggest picking up some of David’s material if you’re not already familiar with it. Now, on to the review of Random Acts of Magic.



Magic DVD Review: Reel Magic Magazine

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Reel Magic MagazineThis isn’t a review of a specific product. Rather I’m taking a look at the series of Reel Magic Magazine DVDs released by Kozmo Magic. They are… in a word… excellent. I have no idea how Kozmo organizes, films, edits, produces, and ships these for such a low price. This is easily one of the best “bang for your buck” deals in magic.

As of this writing, there are 31 issues: each one featuring an interesting, prominent figure in magic. Jay Sankey, Paul Harris, Joshua Jay, Bill Malone, David Williamson, Wayne Houchin, Daniel Garcia, Dan and Dave Buck, and even David Copperfield have graced the covers over the six years in which the video magazine has been produced. You can see the full list of guests on www.ReelMagicMagazine.com.

What’s great is that these interviews (at least so far) have not been shallow “please introduce yourself to everyone” affairs while the guest shamelessly plugs their latest products. Instead I’ve found the interviews to be interesting, honest, and insightful. Jay Sankey openly addresses criticisms about his hypercharged product release schedule. Joshua Jay talks about how he sees almost no correlation between the quality of a magic release and its popularity. Eugene Burger argues that the Chicago Opener is a bad effect. These are fairly hard hitting topics in the magic world, and it’s a testament to the magazine that the guests feel free to open up to share their thoughts in front of the camera.

Then there are the columns. I won’t list every one, but I will mention a few of my favorites.

Tricks of the Trade by David Regal- This is my absolute favorite segment. David has a tendency to primarily review products that he likes. So, if you enjoy watching review shows to see products get trashed, look elsewhere. However, David isn’t pulling any punches or being dishonest. There’s a wealth of great material being released constantly. David just chooses to stay away from bottom of the barrel products in favor of showing off some things you might actually have a chance of wanting to purchase. It’s a great look into a wide variety of magic products both new and old. I always find his comments and recommendations informative, and David is entertaining as hell.

Kid Show FUNdamentals by Silly Billy- I no longer perform kid shows, but I spent my college years gigging it on many weekends. Still, while I may have lost interest in performing magic for children, I recognize the talent, skill, and patience it takes to be successful in this field. David Kaye (a.k.a. Silly Billy) does a great job each month of taking a look at one specific principle or trick in kids show magic and really diving deep into its history and variations.

Coin U by Kainoa Harbottle- This is a new segment to Reel Magic, and it is a welcome addition. Kainoa is a joy to watch. He is an expert sleight-of-hand artist who can make the most difficult moves look easy. His background in higher education (he was a college English teacher for almost a decade) makes him an excellent teacher. I look forward to seeing more of his column.

Move Monkeys- This section is hit and miss. It is often unclear whether it is supposed to be devoted to new moves or just cool sleights that may or not be original. I sometimes cringe when I see a move performed on this segment that clearly belongs to someone else or that brings nothing new to the dance. That being said, there have been some excellent contributions over the years (including Ryan Schlutz’s Pivotal Peek).

Tricks- If you’re looking for tricks, you’ll get your fair share here as well. Each issue contains at least 3 effects that are performed and explained. In general, these routines have appeared on DVDs from other companies. However, there are often Reel Magic exclusive tricks that you haven’t seen anywhere else.

Any way you look at it, Reel Magic Magazine is a tremendous value. You can subscribe and receive 5 issues by mail each year for $60. If you’re late to the dance, you’ll be especially interested to know that Kozmo has just started a new On Demand service which gives you streaming access to every  issue in the catalog as well as future issues immediately upon release. The streaming costs only $5 per month. This is a no brainer. Whether you watch the DVDs or view it on your computer, Reel Magic Magazine gets my highest recommendation.

- Available from www.ReelMagicMagazine.com

P.S.- I’m not sure how long it will be up, but you can currently watch Issue 28 featuring Joshua Jay completely free here: http://www.reelmagicmagazine.com/index.php/issue-28-josh-jay-free.html



Glenn Morphew’s Homing Card

Monday, November 19th, 2012

I thought I posted this awhile ago, but I guess it got lost in the shuffle. Last year, I attended a Christmas party at Midwest Magic in Franklin Park, IL. I had a great time and got to see Marshall Brodien, David Parr, Tim Felix, Tom Dobrowolski, and more. I also met Glenn Morphew for the first time. What a guy! He’s got the chops and the positive energy that reminds me why I fell in love with magic. He performs two moves in particular that you have to see to believe. Luckily, he routined both moves into his Homing Card routine that I filmed that day.

If you want the real work on these sleights, you can purchase instructional videos from his website or from Vanishing Inc. You can also check out Glenn’s YouTube page where he’s posted a bunch of really cool routines.



Hidden Magic Gem #3- “Never the Twain Shall Mix” by Ray Kosby

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Spectacle written by Stephen Minch is a great book and contains many hidden magic gems. The list of contributors reads like a who’s who of magic. Included in the book is an Oil and Water phase by Ray Kosby with an easy-to-do mixing procedure that looks very fair. I’m surprised I have never seen anyone actually performing it. Take a look. Then buy the book!

 



Magic DVD Review: Corporate Close-up by Martin Sanderson

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

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Boxed Set by John Guastaferro

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Not magic… but magical: Pilobolus Dance Theatre “Shadowland”

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