Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Man in the Rubber Mask...

If you could do with a seriously good laugh, then please check out this video by my friend and collaborator Jasper Blakeley in one of his many (dis)guises:



Somebody give him a TV show now...

Whilst Jasper is waiting for BBC3 to get in touch, you can avail yourself of his expertise by booking one of his performance workshops. I've watched him deliver his hands-on training and it is excellent, fulfilling all the three 'I's of good teaching - informative, instructive and inspirational. I can guarantee that you would benefit hugely from spending a day with him. Full details here:

http://www.cabaretacademy.com/index.html

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Also well worth checking out is the new online-only series from Trinny and Susannah: What They Did Next. It is very, very funny in that excruciating post-Extras style that seems so current, but trust me, they have taken it waaaaay further than you ever would have thought they were capable of. Imagine Alan Partridge, but with Coogan playing himself, with no character to hide behind...

Watch it here:

http://www.trinnyandsusannah.com/live/content.php?Category_ID=51

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Is it just me or does there seem to be more ebooks than ever being released. I'm sure that there must be at least one new ebook released every single day!

I recently read Nevermind - The Mentalism of Mat L'Anoire. To be fair (and because I know that some of you get so uptight about these kind of things...!) it would be better described as 'mental magic done with playing cards' than 'mentalism'. The standout effect for me was Scribble which is excellent. As well as being a very clever card revelation it introduces a rather devious principle which has the potential for much wider application. I'd like to think that someone will read it and develop an absolutely killer effect with it, however since almost all of us simply collect ebooks like sweets, and simply skim through them, never reading them properly, much less trying the effects out, it seems unlikely... Oh well.

Check out Nevermind and in particular Scribble here:

http://www.full52.com./nevermind.htm

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Finally, here is my album of the week: Stars - The Five Ghosts. More stunning, dreamy, indie-pop that deserves to be delighting everybody's ears.

Samples, downloads and CD here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-Ghosts-Stars/dp/B003KNDL4G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1280244043&sr=8-1

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Something Old, Something New...

Do I have a treat for you today, or what?

It's no secret that my all-time favorite magician is Gary Kurtz. He no longer performs straight magic, preferring the opportunities offered by working exclusively as a (WARNING: magic-community speak ahead!) stage 'mentalist'.

Of course, to almost all magicians mentalism is just another branch and style of magic, whereas to some mentalists it's a completely separate art form! Indeed one which some of the particularly deluded have convinced themselves shares no common lineage with magic at all, being descended instead from the psychic and (cold) reading performers of the late nineteenth century. Hmmmm...

Anyway, discussion of that lunacy can wait for another day, since this post is about Kurtz and one of his wonderful effects, Full Frontal Assault. Some days I think it is the best magic trick ever devised. Other days, I think it is just the best coin magic trick ever devised. Either way, it is pretty special. In fact, if magic-hating kidnappers took my family and demanded to be fooled by a magic trick to ensure my family's safe return, I'd be straight on the phone to Kurtz to come and perform this (no pressure then!)

My guess is that 99% of the people reading this blog have never heard of Full Frontal Assault, which in my eyes is a crime against magic, so here it is:




Cool, eh? When I first saw it I watched it 10 times in a row and had no idea where the coins were going! It wasn't till quite a while later that I was finally able to get hold of Kurtz's FFA manuscript and learn what he was doing. Sadly, that manuscript is long out of print, although it does very occasionally turn up on eBay for an exorbitant price.

OK, I'll put you out of your misery: he's sleeving the coins. Trust me, even now you know what he's doing, you'll still find it almost impossible to follow the when and the how. The reason I've told you though is to illustrate just one aspect of Kurtz's genius. In FFA he uses sleeving at least as well, if not better, than any other magician I've ever seen. And yet this is the only trick he ever uses sleeving in! Most magicians, when they have perfected a specific technique to this level of mastery use it in almost every trick they ever do. Think about Carl Cloutier and sleeving, Michael Ammar and toppiting or Slydini and lapping. Not Kurtz! He learns sleeving so beautifully that you can't see what he's doing even after you know exactly what he's doing and then he only uses it in one trick. Ever.

Actually, something else bears mentioning too. I referred to Carl Cloutier a moment ago. Now Carl is a fantastic magician and a very charming performer, and his smooth style combined with his sleeving and topit expertise allowed him to win FISM and just about every other magic competition of note in the world. What you might not know about him is that he was Gary Kurtz's student. Think about that: Kurtz's sleeving skills were so outstanding that when he taught them to his student he won FISM! And yet Kurtz himself uses the technique in just one effect.

Similarly, he was world-class at lapping. Yet, again, he only used it in one routine, Relentless. But what a routine! It's a tour-de-force of coin magic and still light years ahead of what most so-called coin magicians are doing twenty years on. Again, it's only available in a rare manuscipt and even if you were to buy it you would still be missing out on the feeling of sheer wonder and the laughter of surprise and amazement that you would experience if you were to see him perform it. Which sadly is unlikely now, although who knows what the future may hold? Either way, all interested students of the art should track down as much of Kurtz's material as they can and learn from a master.

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And so on the 'Something New' promised in the title of this blog post. Jamie Daws (about whom I know about as much as you do) has devised a truly awesome version of Roy Walton's Card Warp. There have been lots (too many?) of attempts to bring this effect into the 21st Century but I have to say that Daws' new Phantasm is far and away the best I have seen for a long time and goes straight into my top 5 Card Warp handlings. What's that? What are the others? OK, here's the list:

1. Phantasm - Jamie Daws. Great thinking, super visual and with a killer climax.
2. Siamese Twins - Bill Goodwin. I'm still as impressed with this as I was 15 years ago when he first showed it to me. Easily the best of the one-card handlings and one of those things that looks much better in person than it does on DVD.
3. The Contortionist - Michael Giles. Still a well kept secret ;)
4. Warp Factor 2000 - Angelo Carbone. Long unavailable but typical Carbone brilliance.
5. Card Warp - Roy Walton. It's a classic for a reason. Still an absolute nailer for laymen.

Here is Phantasm:



I spoke to Peter Nardi about it yesterday and he says that it will be out "by the end of the summer". So about six weeks then. I predict that this is going to be a very big seller.

Incidentally, when I spoke to Nardi he was in the middle of filming two new DVD projects, one with Thom Peterson and one with John Archer. They will both be out later in the year, Peterson's first and then Archer's in time for Christmas. I've seen the running orders for both DVDs and they contain some excellent new material that their fans will love.

Friday, 16 July 2010

SRS

Finally! A cold-reading system that you might actually use...

SRS is my newly released cold-reading system, designed for people who:

1. Haven't got the time (or inclination!) to spend hours studying and memorizing a system or the opportunity to use it often enough to keep it in memory. And,

2. Don't want to do a psychic-style reading, as it doesn't suit them and/or their audience.

Sound like you? Great! You've come to the right place. Here is the ad copy:

SRS – less work than The Cube, more fun than Q & A!
SRS stands for Simplex Reading System. It is a practical cold-reading method designed for mentalists and magicians who want to learn to do readings, but simply haven’t got the time to spend hours and hours memorising traditional systems. Impossible though it sounds, SRS actually requires NO memory work! That’s right, none, nada, zilch. Making it ideal for beginners and experts alike.
With the information provided in this new manuscript you will immediately be able to give anyone an intelligent, perceptive reading. And because of the way it is structured, if you were to meet that person again in a year’s time, you could give them the exact same reading. And remember, no memory work is required.

SRS takes a bold new approach by employing a seemingly random series of questions as the ‘theme’, which means it is perfect for those who want to get away from the more traditional systems. Whilst it will more than satisfy anyone who has previously had an old-school reading, it is also perfect for those looking for a less ‘psychic’ style reading, i.e. something more in tune with today’s psychological approach to mentalism and magic.

The System comes complete with everything you need: the full instruction booklet (not an e-book!), question sheets (printed samples and PDFs so that you can print your own) and a sample reading so that you can see how the system works in practice. Plus audio files of further sample readings being given, so that you can hear exactly how simple, direct and powerful it is. Plus, for those who are brand new to reading, a PDF of informative, entertaining lines that will make you seem like an expert.

SRS has its roots in Ken de Courcy’s fantastic Systematic Seer and therefore shares a lineage with work by Ron Martin, Richard Webster and Mark Sherman. However, SRS heads off in a completely different direction and is a far more ‘pop culture’ approach than anything that has gone before.

If you want to give a reading that sounds like you are in the 21st century rather than the 19th, SRS is for you!
SRS is out now, priced £40.

Sold Out!

Ha! I'm over a year late and I STILL beat Gambit Issue 2!

So here we are again, happy as can be, all good friends and jolly good company!

Well, we're here anyway. It's a start...

For reasons unknown I suddenly feel revitalised about donning the mantle of blogger, which is handy since I have tons of things to tell you about: good, bad and ugly. I will, of course, let you decide for yourself which is which.

This weekend's big news is the Essential Magic Conference and if you don't know what that is, or worse, you do know and you haven't signed up, then you are missing out BIG TIME.

Come back and read this blog some more later, but for now go and sign up for the conference:

http://essentialmagicconference.com/

Done? Good. So, as I said, I have lots more to share with you, but for now, here are three other things you should know about and you've got time to check out quickly before this evening's EMC lectures start:

Bargain of the week: Scott Guinn is having an 'all my ebooks are $5' sale. There are at least half-a-dozen that I think are fantastic and you really ought to take the plunge. Start off with Marked For Death, That's How We Do It and any random one of his card magic ebooks and take it from there:

http://www.scottfguinn.com/cardmagic.asp


Best trick I've learnt this week: Eric Jones's Audio. If you haven't seen this you are in for a treat! It's been a long time since I've wanted to add any new coin magic to the ol' Elsdon reperoire, but Audio is one of those effects that is simply too good not to learn. Regular coins + a bit of skill + brilliant thinking = killer trick. Well done Mr Jones!

Watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK5xQlsEYyg

and then buy it here:

http://www.ericjonesmagic.com/products.html


Best recent book that I'm annoyed that I still haven't made the time to start studying: Vortex by Tom Stone. Tom is a dreamer of dreams (only a very few of which are of the pipe variety), a keeper of notebooks, a student of the art and a creator of some considerable repute. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading his ebook releases over the last few years, adding several of his brilliant effects to my arsenal in the process, and I'm very pleased to have some of his work in more permanent form. The design, layout and artwork all look fantatstic and I know that the material is top-notch, so now all I've gotta do is sit down and actually read the thing... I'll report back as soon as I do.

Vortex available here:

http://www.hermeticpress.com/