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Reviews: Read What Christopher M. Reynolds Is Saying

11 ★★★★★ reviews
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Displaying 1 to 17 (of 17 reviews)

My Favorite Easy Mental Card Magic

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher M. Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 22 January, 2024)

My Favorite Easy Mental Card MagicI need another book on card tricks like JFK needs another hole in his head. They're my wife, my lover, my lady, my obsession, especially the mentalism variety.

With ten dollars burning a hole in my pocket, MY FAVORITE EASY MENTAL CARD MAGIC by George G. Anderson satisfied my craving for all things pasteboard.

While not a household name, George G. Anderson worked as a mentalist after a long career in newspaper and radio. He earned the trust of famous performers, including Howard Thurston and Blackstone Sr., and published several books on magic.

Clocking in at a hair over twenty-one pages, Anderson walks the reader (in detail) through eleven of his favorite mind-reading effects, using straightforward techniques like the Si Stebbins set-up or sneaky gimmicks like Wite-Out or paraffin wax.

Simple while not simplistic, the tricks included in MY FAVORITE EASY MENTAL CARD MAGIC are a refreshing change of pace from practicing technically complicated sleight-of-hand (and failing miserably).

Will you learn anything new or revelatory? Probably not. Although this is not a MUST-HAVE ebook, it gave me hours of pleasure while sitting at home on a rainy afternoon playing around with my cards.

This pamphlet is for you if that's your idea of a good time (like I do).

Palm Reading for Magicians

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher M. Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Tuesday 12 September, 2023)

Palm Reading for MagiciansYou may not know me, but I know you. You are unique. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and only accept others' statements with satisfactory proof. You have a strong sense of curiosity. You have much-unused capacity, which you have yet to turn to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you can generally compensate for them. If you are reading this review to see if it is something you should buy, then do it right now. I know you better than you know yourself. You need this book. Buy it.

It's a bitter pill for magicians to swallow, but most people would rather pay to have their palm read by a cheesy fortune teller than watch a free magic show. Why? Self-interest is the answer. Dale Carnegie wrote in his 1936 self-help book How To Win Friends and Influence People: "Talk to someone about themselves, and they'll listen for hours."

Psychics can earn a decent living listening to others talk. The only job requirements are making people happy and mastering cold reading techniques.

In his pamphlet "Palm Reading for Magicians," William W. Larson, Sr. provides a method for magicians to make extra money by offering palm readings after performances.

If you don't know anything about palmistry, don't worry. You don't have to. After a few rehearsals, you can give a convincing reading to any person without further study.

This script provides a psychic reading from "cradle to grave," offering practical advice but saying very little.

Larsen and editor T.A. Waters provide tips on enhancing your performance and reveal covert (and possibly unlawful) methods for gathering information on potential clients, establishing your reputation as a reliable psychic.

I've seen firsthand how powerful this stuff can be. While working as a bartender in 2003, I read palms to pad my tip jar. My only psychic power was the ability to recite psychologist Bertram Forer's classic 1948 cold reading vignette, some of which I used above. Some women break down and cry after a reading. The belief is genuine, even if the analysis is tongue-in-cheek.

For an experiment, I tried out Larsen's palmistry material at work. After tweaking the language to suit my style, I cherry-picked bits and pieces from the script that applied to most people, such as:

"What I saw when I first started to read your hand was a tendency to allow your heart to govern your mind."

My co-workers now think I'm the main character from Stephen King's The Dead Zone. But on the bright side, I've made $20 during my lunch breaks, giving readings. That's double the price of the book.

Buy this script and practice it. The learning will be time well spent. You won't be sorry for adding palmistry to your bag of tricks.

Joe Karson Compilation

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher M. Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 17 July, 2023)

Joe Karson CompilationMagic historians may know that Joe Karson invented the Zombie Floating Ball, but few magicians associate his name with it. When Karson first advertised Zombie in 1943, it was a sensation.

However, due to alcoholism, he slipped into obscurity and disappeared from the magic community, dying in 1980 at age 67.

The Joe Karson Compilation is a collection of books, magazines, and instruction sheets created by magician Joe Karson. Author and magician Michael E. Rose has compiled these long-lost materials to introduce modern performers to this forgotten icon and his creations.

Joseph Alexander Chrzanowski, also known as Joe Karson, was born on November 12th, 1912, in Providence, Rhode Island. As a child, he became interested in magic after seeing a local magician, and by the age of sixteen was working behind the counter at a magic shop in Springfield, Massachusetts, and performing his Asian-themed magic act around New England.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Karson became a popular comedic performer, frequently stealing the show at magic conventions.

He made a name for himself as a magic dealer by founding the Magic Dealers' Association, inventing and building much of the illusions he sold in his Springfield, Massachusetts shop named Karson's Xclusives.

Karson's Xclusives published booklets on various types of magic, including Illusion Magic in 1943, featuring "The Rubberneck Illusion." This gadget, now known as the Head Twister, is still used in many Las Vegas comedy magic acts.

Get all of Joe Karson's publications in one PDF for only $24.00. Discover the secrets behind his original card tricks, hypnotism, stage illusions, and more in 268 pages.

Most of Karson's published tricks lack patter, but his signature effect, The World's Fastest Card Trick, is explained in an eight-page pamphlet, including the scripting and subtleties that Karson used. The trick is simple, but it can become a comedy masterpiece with the right performer.

Two-person codes are always a winner with me, and the Karson Kard Kode is an easy, practical addition to any telepathy act.

Other highlights include a two-part work on hypnotrix, which are pseudo-scientific body tricks made to resemble genuine hypnotism.

My favorite thing about the Karson collection is his disregard for safety, as he published the secret methods for performing a dangerous bullet catch and the controversial pseudo-hypnosis trick, "The Subject Sleeps in One Minute." This "trick" involves applying pressure to a spectator's neck that can cause the subject to blackout or even die.

A 1934 booklet called "Sensational Poison Swallowing Act" teaches how to perform an entire act, making the audience believe the performer resists poisons.

Please don't try this one at home (or at all!)

Another favorite but less dangerous trick is a simple levitation using only a sheet and an assistant, reducing a typically cumbersome stage illusion to the bare bones.

As a magic book collector, I found the Joe Karson compilation to be a glimpse into the mind of a creative and prolific writer. Still, there's plenty of material that modern performers can use.

About the author:

Michael Rose has been a professional magician since he was young, starting his interest in magic at the age of eight when he received an Adams magic set. He has performed his comedy magic all over the United States and Canada in various settings, including dinner theaters, corporate events, street performing, and even at a Presidential Inauguration. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Society of American Magicians, and the Magic Collectors' Association.

Anthology of Card Magic

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Saturday 15 July, 2023)

Anthology of Card MagicIf you like Jean Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, you'll love The Anthology of Card Magic by Gordon Miller.

As a reader, I love card trick anthologies because they provide an inexpensive way to experiment with many different styles of tricks, techniques, and presentations. Additionally, they introduce you to a wide range of talent.

And the talent on display in The Anthology of Card Magic is impressive. It's a smorgasbord of vintage card tricks from classic names like John Scarne and Ted Annemann to lesser-known contributors such as Bob Hummer and Joe Karson.

Gordon Miller, a 30-year staff member at Abbott Magic, compiled a collection of over 300 effects from the archives. Each was featured in one of Abbott Magic Company's retail catalogs, including titles previously out-of-print or forgotten, such as Amazing Card Miracles, Card System Deluxe, and Klever Kard Kodes.

In his introduction, he writes, "No apology should be afforded for the quantity or quality of the material provided."

Regarding quality in some magic compilations, there is a redundant amount of B- level tricks. However, in this case, Miller has collected abundant A-plus material covering everything from sleight-of-hand to pre-arranged packs, short cards, and more.

One trick I found especially interesting was the Fortune Telling Card Trick, a mind-boggling effect combining fortune telling, mind reading, and "pick-a-card" type magic.

Using two packs of cards, the magician demonstrates their fortune-telling skills, revealing to the spectator their age, how many siblings they have, whom they are expecting a letter from, the month of their birth, the year something important happened in their lives, and other interesting facts.

Klever Kard Kodes was the highlight of the anthology. It is a twenty-page treatise on two-person telepathy using playing cards, highlighting dozens of sneaky silent and verbal codes mentalists and confederates can use.

Whether you're a professional performer looking for new material or an amateur like me who enjoys browsing compilations and trying new tricks, this eBook is a goldmine.

At the low price of $12.95, it's more than a bargain. It's a steal. If you love card magic, buy this now.

Magicians' Tricks

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 21 June, 2023)

Magicians' TricksIf you want to learn about classic magic tricks and their execution, "Magicians Tricks and How They Are Done" is an excellent book to explore. In 1910, Hatton and Plate, two skilled magicians, wrote a book that provided solutions to previously unsolvable illusions. Their book, Magicians' Tricks, is a classic in the world of magic, and it is essential for both amateur and professional magicians today.

This how-to manual is a must-have whether you are new to magic or have experience. It teaches you to perform 140 tricks using everyday items such as cards, coins, balls, eggs, and handkerchiefs. The manual also includes 194 black-and-white illustrations to guide you through the process.

This book has a detailed section on card magic that covers a wide range of techniques such as passes, palms, forces, changes, false shuffles, a second deal, and various effects like Making a Card Disappear from a Glass and Tearing a Pack of Cards in Two.

Aspiring magicians can learn how to perform tricks using coins like the Penetrating Coin, Passing a Coin Through a Hat, and The Disappearing Coin.

They'll also learn how to create unique effects with billiard balls, make handkerchiefs disappear, tear and restore paper strips, produce something from nothing, and more.

Many tricks come with suggested stage "patter" to engage or distract the audience.

This book is an excellent guide if you're interested in learning magic. Its well-drawn illustrations clarify movements, detailing finger and hand positions. The instructions for each trick are easy to follow and understand, and the author's years of experience and practice make them reliable, making it a complete resource for individuals interested in the art of magic.

About the authors:

Adrian Plate, born in Utrecht, Holland, on June 10, 1844, served as an officer in the Dutch army before moving to New York in 1877. For over 35 years, he worked as an accountant for a railroad company while pursuing his passion for magic as a famous society magician. Plate was particularly adept at card manipulation, mentalism, and memory feats.

Dr. Ellison, a renowned magic collector, amateur magician, and magic journalist John Northern Hilliard acknowledged Plate's sleight of hand card work as unparalleled and superior to any they had ever witnessed.

In 1902, he became one of the first members of the Society of American Magicians (S.A.M. # 25).

Plate was passionate about collecting books on magic and the occult, and his collection included rare English translations of necromancy. His apartment in Upper New York was a popular destination for visiting magicians. In addition to the extensive book collection, he kept scrapbooks filled with pictures and handbills of past magicians.

After Adrian Plate passed away, Harry Houdini obtained his vast library, currently housed at the Library of Congress.

In August Roterberg's book, "New Era Card Tricks," Plate's unique sleight, the Excelsior exchange, was featured. He also co-wrote a book called "Magicians Tricks and How They Are Done" with Henry Hatton, considered one of the top ten books on magic by historian and collector H. Adrian Smith.

On February 24, 1919, he passed away at 74.

Henry Hatton was a magician and writer who taught himself everything he knew. He was born Patrick Henry Cannon in New York City on December 16, 1837, but later changed his name to Henry Hatton. After being inspired by seeing the great John Henry Anderson, he became a professional touring magician in 1867. Henry also wrote a series called "Lessons in Magic" for the children's magazine "Our Young Folks" from 1865 to 1867.

He joined S.A.M. in 1902 as Member #21 and later became the President of S.A.M. from 1912 to 1914.

Hatton coauthored the book "Magicians' Tricks" in 1910 with Adrian Plate. This book is considered a classic in the field of magic and was even referred to as the "first American general textbook" by Henry Hay (also known as Barrows Mussey).

On December 24, 1922, at 85, he passed away on Christmas Eve.

Magic Without Apparatus

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Saturday 29 April, 2023)

Magic Without ApparatusCamille Gaultier was a French lawyer with a doctorate in law who later pursued a career as a full-time magician. He lived from 1872 to 1943. "Magic without Apparatus" is the English version of his 1914 book "La Prestidigitation sans Appareils."

Since its initial U.S. publication in 1945, "Magic Without Apparatus" achieved instant success among English-speaking magicians as one of the leading resources for advanced sleight-of-hand knowledge. Translated by author and magician Jean Hugard, it presented written and illustrated entries on performing everything from card and coin sleights to manipulating thimbles and billiard balls.

Professor Hoffman (author of Modern Magic) wrote:

"A contribution of the first rank to the literature of the subject. ... The book may fairly claim to contain the best sleights of the most finished performers, many of them never, till now, described in print. ... To the serious magician, the man who aims at becoming a master of his art, the information here given should be of the highest possible value."

Leo Rullman was a book dealer, Deputy Collector of the Port of New York. He was a skilled juggler and amateur magician. Rullman was known for his appreciation of magic literature. He once praised "Magic Without Apparatus" as "the greatest work on pure sleight-of-hand in any language."

This book contains a collection of the most effective methods for performing sleight-of-hand tricks, compiled from the works of famous magicians like Howard Thurston, Harry Houdini, August Roterberg, Charlier, Felicien Trewey, Chung Ling Soo, and others, including the author. This is an invaluable resource for those who are fascinated with sleight-of-hand conjuring.

For history buffs such as myself, the 58-page introduction was alone worth the price of the (e)book. Gaultier begins by discussing the influence of French conjurers (like Alexander Herrmann, Robert Houdin, and Buatier de Kolta) in magic history before reviewing early French conjuring literature and describing the types of magic performed in the seventeenth through early nineteenth centuries.

The initial section of the book covers playing cards, containing various techniques with in-depth explanations beyond what a typical magic learner may have previously encountered, including five methods of false shuffling, eleven for making the pass, fifteen for avoiding the use of the pass, five ways to force cards, fourteen methods of card palming, thirteen card changes and substitutions, and seventeen "color changes" with cards.

Part Two of the book delves into coin magic. It's structured similarly to Part One, covering the fundamental techniques used in coin conjuring. Overall, there are 55 essential sleights to learn, including 14 methods for coin palming, 36 ways to make coins disappear, and 5 methods for coin transformation.

Part three thoroughly covers billiard ball sleights and tricks, while part four focuses on sleights and tricks using thimbles.

This book is exceptional as a reference for pure sleight-of-hand as it offers an unparalleled and comprehensive treatment. Over the past decade, the art of magic and illusion has significantly progressed, particularly with playing cards. However, magic enthusiasts may find the techniques presented in "Magic Without Apparatus" moldy and unappealing. It's a shame that some may dismiss it as outdated.

Modern performers need to appreciate the roots of their art form. They shouldn't live in an artistic vacuum with only the latest YouTube videos. Neglecting the history of their craft, they limit their creativity.

Spend the time reading Magic Without Apparatus, remembering that you're a link in a chain that spans back to antiquity. There is no such thing as an "old" sleight or trick, only forgotten ones ready to be dusted off and taken out of retirement.

As the saying goes, "If you don't know your past, then you won't know your future."

Annemann's Card Magic

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 27 October, 2022)

Annemann's Card MagicWhile visiting Disneyland in the early 1980s, I bought the Dover Books edition of Annemann's Card Magic at the Main Street magic shop. It was one of the first "grown-up" books of card tricks I had ever purchased.

I've had this copy on my bookshelf for almost four decades, and it's been a constant source of inspiration. I've read it so often that the pages are held together with Scotch Tape and staples.

When I saw it available on, I decided to put my physical copy out to pasture and purchased the ebook version.

That's how great this book is; it's good enough for me to purchase twice.

There's no preface, foreword, or general discussion about performing magic, just step-by-step instructions for over 100 brilliant, easy-to-manage effects. The roster of tricks included in this book is culled from The Jinx magazine's files. It contains two separate publications: Ted Annemann's Full Deck of Impromptu Card Tricks and Annemann's Miracles of Card Magic.

The book is bursting at the seams with a wealth of first-rate material that magicians will revere for generations, including contributions from some of the most recognized names in conjuring literature: Dai Vernon, Dr. Daley, Jean Hugard, Al Baker, Audley Walsh, Stewart Judah, and others.

Annemann, who gained notoriety as a mentalist (and tenor singer), was also a gifted card man, relying on his mastery of subtlety and misdirection to make up for his lack of sleight-of-hand chops, which he never felt comfortable performing in public.

The late comedy magician Harry Anderson was a rabid fan of Annemann's act. In his book, Wise Guy, magician and Anderson biographer Mike Caveney writes, "What Harry appreciated most about Annemann's magic was that it cut right to the bone. Everything unnecessary was stripped away, and the simplest methods carried you straight to the effect."

Sleight-of-hand is one way of performing magic, but it's not the only way. That's why most of the tricks in this collection don't require any tricky moves, substituting shrewdness for skill.

The successful presentation of the many brilliant feats on these pages depends upon the card magician's hidden allies: short cards, double-faced cards, stranger cards, duplicates, simple prearrangements, and other ingenious methods that provide the means for creating otherwise elusive miracles.

Annemann's Card Magic contains illustrations by artist Nelson Hahne that didn't appear in the original versions of The Jinx and help add clarity to the text. Also included are two complete, original routines performed by Ted Annemann. These alone are worth the entire price of this volume.

The search is now over if you've been looking for a few simple (yet not simplistic), easy-to-master effects. Whether you're seeking card tricks for close-up work or stage presentations, you'll find a whole array of solid performance pieces here that won't disappoint.

Annemann's Card Magic is a classic book every magician should add to their library. I highly recommend it.

The Art of the Grafter: a pitchman guide to selling

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★ (Date Added: Saturday 22 October, 2022)

The Art of the Grafter: a pitchman guide to sellingDo you want to make OBSCENE amounts of money, up to ONE-THOUSAND DOLLARS ... per day ... after only 1 hour of training?

You can earn over $300,000 annually; it's fast, easy, and fun! And it's so simple that even a child could do it.

"How?" you ask.

By selling the most MIRACULOUS, INCREDIBLE, and FANTASTIC pack of playing cards, the world has ever seen:


Have I gotten your attention? Good. If you read this pitch and your eyes lighted up with flashing neon dollar signs, you just fell for a get-rich-quick scheme.

From "double-your-money" scams to advertisements promising untold wealth by stuffing envelopes at home, get-rich-quick scams are lurking around every corner.

If you're the type of person who wants to get rich quickly, then don't buy The Art of the Grafter*. Born in 1943, the author, Walt Lees, was a British magician and magic writer. From 1968-1977 he traveled around England, earning an honorary degree from the school of hard knocks while working as a Svengali pitchman.

The book is an adaptation of his two successful audio cassettes released some time ago. He felt their material was so valuable to those looking to make money in magic that he transcribed and rewrote the text you now have in front of you.

Lees doesn't sugarcoat anything, giving you the skinny on the traps, pitfalls, and ultimate rewards of the grafter business in plain English.

You'll discover the truth behind pitching magic tricks in this book: "The first quality that a good pitchman needs is the desire to make money at all costs." Salesmanship and showmanship are essential in making an object appear of good value. Being a top-flight magician has nothing to do with pitching your product line.

"In show business, the more laughter and applause you can get, the more money you earn. In pitch selling, the opposite is the case. You cannot pay your mortgage with applause! "

Grafting isn't a game for the lazy and unmotivated. It's all about persistence. "A person who gives up when the going gets tough will never succeed. Most pitchmen are tough because pitching is a tough game."

Lees knows firsthand how tough things can get. From exhausting 80-hour work weeks, erratic employment, angry customers, and abusive hecklers, he's seen it all. He even advises the reader about dealing with gangs of teenage bullies and pushy prostitutes trying to muscle in on your territory.

Step by step, he gives you the inside scoop on pulling large crowds, building up interest, and paving the way for the most crucial part of the pitch: making the sale and collecting the money. Here he'll teach you the art of luring in the punters, enticing them to buy, buy, buy!

According to Lees: "If you want to be in the top league of money earners, then do not pitch magic. On the other hand, magic is fairly easy to sell and can be relied upon to produce a steady income. Obviously, there is a peak at Christmas, but by and large, there is a reasonable income to be made all of the time."

A good grafter with an excellent trick to sell can make lots of money, but pitching magic won't bring in the same amount of dough that pitching household items would.

Joe Ades was a New York City sidewalk pitchman. At the time of his death in 2009, he had sold enough combination carrot/potato peelers in downtown Times Square to purchase a Park Avenue penthouse apartment and a closet full of $1,000 custom-made suits.

Overall, The Art of the Grafter was a fast and informative read, giving me insight into a branch of magic I knew nothing about. Most important to me was that the book quickly extinguished any notion I had about making my first million dollars selling packs of gaffed cards.

I guess I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon.

*Grafters (along with Punch & Judy performers and Hurdy-Gurdy men) seem to be a strictly British phenomenon. Here in America, our version is the fast-talking television infomercial pitchman like Billy Mays, who made his fortune hawking pretty much anything that sliced, diced, and julienned vegetables.

Show Stoppers with Cards

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Friday 30 September, 2022)

Show Stoppers with CardsJean Hugard and Frederick Braue are two legendary card trick writers; Individually, both are excellent. But when these two talents collaborate the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Published in 1940, their first literary team-up, Expert Card Technique, was an influential manual on sophisticated state-of-the-art card magic. To keep the book's final draft a manageable length, Hugard and Braue edited out a lot of quality material, including lost chapters contributed by Dai Vernon and Dr. Daley.

Show Stoppers With Cards isn't just another collection of card tricks. In putting together this 33-page pamphlet, the pair sifted through piles of unedited manuscript pages from Expert Card Technique, compiling these eleven effects.

The small size of this booklet makes the material's quality and scope impressive. It's aimed toward intermediate to advanced magicians, but the necessary sleights are real-world and practical enough for hobbyists like me to add new effects to their repertoire.

The first few pages discuss the Braue Double lift. The moves are natural, and anyone with card handling experience can learn them in a short time.

Along with several Braue routines, the booklet features contributions from some of his magic community peers. It's a virtual who's-who of 1940s-era magicians like Bert Allerton, Stewart James, Bert Fenn, Neal Elias, and Bob Madison.

This collection has two stand-out tricks: The first is Bert Allerton's Amazing Aces*, which piles one surprise on top of the last, building up to a chorus of laughter at the twist ending.

The second exceptional effect in the book is Fred Braue's The Homing Cards. This card trick has an exciting history behind it.

It was one of the signature effects of award-winning Dutch magician Fred Kaps. In the fall of 1964, he performed it live on the Ed Sullivan Show, a popular television variety program.

According to magician Mike Caveney in the book MAGIC:1400s-1950s, magicians were getting less air time on television in the 1960s as rock n roll took front and center:

"The symbolic passing of the baton from variety acts to rock n roll occurred February 9, 1964, when 73 million viewers tuned into the Ed Sullivan Show to see the Beatles. Minutes before he welcomed the fab four to America, Sullivan introduced what many experts considered to be the greatest all-around magician of his generation: Fred Kaps. This brilliant Dutchman's routine and the last remnants of vaudeville were buried under the tidal wave of screams and applause that greeted the Beatles onstage."

Show Stoppers With Cards is a must-have for any Hugard & Braue fans. I recommend it. $4.00 is a low price for quality card tricks of such historical value.

*Burt Allerton was a former oil executive turned close-up magician. He performed in some of the finest hotels on the east and west coast.

The Creative Tables

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 22 September, 2022)

The Creative TablesAll entertainers are on the verge of becoming obsolete. That's an enduring truth in show business. To any creative or imaginative performer, this is a relief. This wisdom implies that there will always be room for something new.

Magic is no different. It's old-fashioned and in desperate need of fresh blood.

While there may not be such a thing as an "original" magic trick, there are fresh, original ways of looking at one. The Creative Tables by C. Golo Naito isn't about sleights or routines; it's about how to think about your magic and apply innovative solutions to your creations.

He starts by listing the ten primary effects of magic: production, vanish, transformation, etc., before giving his list of 31 thought-provoking questions and exercises that will make you examine your current tricks with new eyes. Here are three of my favorite:

Ten ways to use origami Think of ten big illusions that you could make into a smaller close-up version Think of ten things that could end up in a balloon

Naito also offers clever, out-of-the-box advice on time management and motivation.

Even after creating original card tricks for decades, I still found some ideas that inspire me to think differently.

Give a man a magic trick, and you entertain him for a day; teach a man how to create his own magic effects, and you entertain him for a lifetime.

I can't recommend this book enough.

Eddie's Dumbfounders with Cards

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 21 September, 2022)

Eddie's Dumbfounders with CardsEddie Joseph was a night-club magician who lived in Calcutta, India. He authored almost seventy books on magic in his lifetime, cementing his international legacy as a respected inventor and sleight-of-hand master. His pet trick was the cups & balls.

He is the type of writer I admire; he doesn't let silly things like talent get in the way of being prolific. Sometimes, to be prolific, one has to sacrifice perfection.

A few of Eddie's books, like Eddie's Dumbfounders With Cards, are of dubious quality.

The cover boasts:

No Sleights! No Skill! No Moves!


Reading Eddie's Dumbfounders With Cards by Eddie Joseph made me feel like I time-traveled back to my high-school remedial math class.

Here's how I solve a math equation: 1. Read the problem 2. Cry

Mathematical card tricks are supposed to be fun to learn, not dull. Many of Eddie's dumbfounders are long and tedious, with endless dealing and counting cards.

Joseph's old-timey prose was challenging to understand. At best, his writing is confusing and monotonous. Much of the time, the instructions made no sense, leaving me puzzled.

Reading a novel about paint drying would have been more interesting.

I understand that writing the methods for card tricks isn't the same as writing literature. But, at minimum, the instructions must make things clear to the reader. This point is where the book fails.

Joseph was a more technically accomplished magician than many of his peers. His profound influence as a magic creator suggests that he was a better performer than a writer in the acute sense of expressing and communicating his ideas.

I enjoyed the principles behind a couple of tricks, but regulations don't make lively entertainment:

Memory Phenomenal: Immediately naming the location of a mentally chosen card in an entire deck of fifty-two while blindfolded.

Over the wire: a mental effect performed over the phone.

Maybe, with some imagination and style, you can create a repertoire of card tricks using Eddie Joseph's methods. But, overall, I found the book boring, impractical, and devoid of any actual content.

I can't recommend it to any magician looking for their first trick or advanced performers interested in expanding their magic repertoire. The only people I can recommend this to are people like me: Book collectors. If that describes you, Eddie Joseph is a classic author to add to your digital shelf.

I give it three stars strictly due to its obscure collector's value.

Popular Card Tricks

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Tuesday 13 September, 2022)

Popular Card TricksMany magicians still follow the unwritten, antiquated rule that says there are three ways to learn card magic: practice, more practice, and still more practice.

But, with so much time spent alone practicing, learning intricate sleights, and complex routines, the results can end up disappointing. Constant practice not balanced with live performance in front of an audience can produce magicians skillful at everything except entertaining people.

Walter B. Gibson, considered one of the greatest authorities in the history of magic, created a new rule: the best way to learn magic is to begin by doing it.

Even with years of practice and the best instruction, skill can be challenging to duplicate. Popular Card Tricks is the perfect book for amateur magicians who want to learn (and start performing) well-known card tricks that deceive the eye and mind while further developing their expertise without years of tedious practice.

Here, he reveals the secret methods behind 90 easy-to-learn effects. The emphasis is on subtle deception rather than elaborate sleight-of-hand, assuring success within hours for anyone looking to become a magician.

By carefully following the simple instructions, you'll develop a well-rounded repertoire of astonishing effects on which you can draw for a lifetime of enjoyment.

"To explain how magic is done is one thing," said Walter Gibson, "but to tell how to do it is quite another."

The card tricks comprising this book are self-working and quickly learned, yet still baffling to spectators because of the unsuspecting principles on which they depend. And it's not just beginners who will benefit from this book, but intermediate and advanced magicians, finding new tricks and simplified ways of performing the classics.

Chapter one presents a series of clever card tricks relying on self-working methods. Combined with proper presentation, these simple effects are some of the most baffling in card magic.

Chapter two deals with "Pick a card, any card" type tricks, explaining techniques for finding and revealing cards chosen by spectators.

Chapter three, Mysterious Card Tricks Performed With The Aid Of Special Systems, teaches you little-known mathematical principles used by magicians around the world.

Chapter four deals with one of the oldest principles in magic, the prearranged packs of cards, arranging an entire deck according to a secret method that looks accidental but allows the performer to calculate the exact position of each card.

In chapter five, you'll learn several unique, unclassifiable tricks performed with odd cards, additional packs, and unusual conditions that separate these effects from the typical run of card tricks.

The author drew upon a lifetime spent in professional magic for his expertise. Not only was Gibson well-known as one of the best writers on the subject of magic, but he was also a personal friend and confidant of some of the most outstanding past performers like Thurston and Blackstone.

The book was initially ghost-written for Harry Houdini, which Gibson compiled using Houdini's handwritten notes. The two men were working on a three-volume set on intermediate magic when the escape artist died in 1926. In 1928 the book was released under Gibson's name.

Have you ever been astonished by the flawless performance of a card trick and wanted to learn how they did it? Have you ever dreamed of mystifying audiences with a deck of cards? If so, this eBook reproduction of the underrated 1920s classic is for you.

The Basics of Knife Throwing

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 08 September, 2022)

The Basics of Knife ThrowingWritten in a clear and easy-to-understand language, The Basics of Knife Throwing by Ken Tabor Jr. delivers what its title promises.

Twenty years ago, I watched the 1999 movie, The Girl on The Bridge. It's a French film about an aging circus performer (Daniel Auteuil) who rescues a suicidal young girl (Vanessa Paradis) from jumping off a bridge. He takes her under his wing as his assistant in a knife-throwing act—eventually, the pair falls in love.

After seeing it, I went through a brief knife-throwing phase. I was hooked on the adrenaline and romance of this unique art form but ultimately moved on to other, less lethal pastimes.

The Basics Of Knife Throwing caught my eye while browsing the catalog and instantly revived my long-dormant interest in what's gruesomely known as the impalement arts.

Knife-throwing acts have entertained crowds at circuses and wild west shows since the 19th century. While those nostalgic days have passed, these days, you can find knife-throwing acts making appearances on tv shows like America's Got Talent and its British Isle counterpart, Britain's Got Talent.

The danger and skill displayed in such performances, especially those involving a blindfolded thrower hurling sharp blades at a sexy, half-naked assistant strapped spread eagle to the spinning "wheel of death," is jaw-droppingly impressive.

While this work has nothing to do with circus-style knife tricks and showmanship, if that's your intended goal, then Ken Tabor Jr. will put you on the right path. He's distilled his 30-plus years of knife-throwing wisdom into a compact 28-page book. It's light on fluff but heavy on basic body mechanics like proper grip, stance, and release, not to mention fundamental safety issues that will help keep you and others injury free.

With simple step-by-step instructions and accompanying photos, it's as easy to read as it is to understand, making learning proper throwing techniques accessible to anyone, which, if you've never tried it, is more complicated than you think.

Learning to properly throw a knife is like learning a card trick or juggling: all the reading and studying in the world won't do the work for you. It's going to take practice: hours and hours of practice.

My first attempts were pitiful. It seemed like I had a better chance of hitting the lottery than I did my intended target.

Eventually, after figuring out the science and the physics behind the spin, the knives started to stick to the mark. After a couple days of practice, I could impale a cheap steak knife into the trunk of a box elder tree 5 out of ten times.

Tabor isn't a "professional" writer. This is strictly an amateur effort born out of love. The grammar is a bit clunky, and there are a few misspelled words, but the information is sound and easy to grasp.

It's worth your time and effort to read this e-book. There may be longer, more expensive manuals on the same subject, but this is an excellent, no B.S. starting point. And, at the low price of $2.99, it was still cheaper than a 12 oz. cup of coffee at Starbucks.

All you need to provide is the knives, a few afternoons, and lots of patience!

Magical Gospel Lessons

Overall customer rating: ★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 04 August, 2022)

Magical Gospel LessonsAnyone reading this review will find it odd what I'm about to say: I'm an atheist who loves to read the Holy Bible. For many people, it's a contradiction they can't seem to wrap their heads around, but to me, there's nothing counterintuitive about it.

The Holy Bible is considered the greatest story ever told for a good reason. It's as relevant now as it was in the times of Martin Luther. As you open its pages, you step into a beautiful piece of literature written over thousands of years by dozens of authors. Every page is filled with fantastic stories and complex characters and is steeped in poetry that can fill a person's heart with joy and enduring truths.

As a magician, I found the gospel magic concept fascinating. I think it's a fresh approach to bringing these timeless stories and ancient wisdom to life. But "Magical Gospel Lessons" by Rev. Lawrence Burden was a huge disappointment.

It's not that I was expecting simple magic tricks geared towards evangelizing children to be at the same artistic level as the apostle Paul's writings in Romans and 1 & 2 Corinthians. My problem with the pamphlet was this: All but one of the nineteen tricks presented called for expensive store-bought props.

One thing especially irritated me—the Rev. Burden's insistence on pushing the Abbots Magic Company on his readers. Eight of the tricks called for equipment sold explicitly by that outfit. Here's a list:

Only one trick, a gospel twist on the Professor's Nightmare (cut and restored rope), used something you could find lying around the house.

After a while, I began thinking that the Reverend owned Abbot's Magic Company stock or was getting a kickback of the profits.

Maybe someone should have reminded him before he wrote this book of Proverbs 22:16: "Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty."

Sorry, Reverend Burden, but in the Gospels, Jesus met people's spiritual and physical needs through his use of parables, not thumb tips, and magical chafing dishes.

While the messages in this book pushing home the glories of God are commendable, the prohibitive price outlay for the recommended equipment is unnecessary and ridiculous. Spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg.

If you're a minister or Sunday school teacher looking to add gospel magic to your sermons, save the $4.00 price of this E-book and put it in the collection basket. Check out some free online resources instead.

Comedy a la Card

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 03 August, 2022)

Comedy a la CardI've recently been working through "Revolutionary Card Technique" by Ed Marlo, and I can't find anything funny about it. There's not even one fart joke in the whole thing.

After reading a positive review by Jamy Ian Swiss about the book "Much Ado About Something" by Karrell Fox, I purchased a copy of "Comedy Ala Card" by the same author.

I decided that $6.95 was a small price to pay for some card tricks that could maybe give me a good laugh.

According to Swiss, Fox is a master of comedy magic. But comedy is subjective, and Jamy Ian Swiss and I seem to have a glaring difference in opinion about what we find funny. "Comedy Ala Card" left me stone-faced as silent movie comedian Buster Keaton.

Puns and prop comedy in the right hands, like Tommy Cooper's, can slay an audience. But Karrell Fox's reliance on stale bits using oversized playing cards and wind-up chattering teeth purchased in the toy aisle of the $1.00 store is on life support, struggling to stay alive.

To be fair to Mr. Fox, he wrote this slim 32-page treatise in 1960 when Milton Berle was considered the zenith of comedy. But times have changed, and this book's gags haven't aged well.

But that doesn't mean that "Comedy Ala Card" completely wasted an hour of my life. It was refreshing that someone devoted time and energy to developing a card trick's comedy potential, not just writing another magic book filled with boring sleights that most magicians will only discuss at conventions but never use.

Fox has a discerning eye for visual humor, using simple and practical methods. And his writing is as easy to understand as directions for microwaving a frozen pizza. Some of his best ideas are written in brief, easy-to-digest snippets, no longer than a few sentences.

It's a truism that if you get one useable trick from a book, you get your money's worth. And I got at least three ideas from "Comedy Ala Card" that I can adapt and put into practice.

One gag, in particular, caught my eye. It was a card reveal using a large beach towel with a giant playing card printed on it wrapped around your head like a turban. After forcing a card, you unwrap the towel from your head at the finale of the trick, revealing the card's identity. My version involved gluing a playing card to the crotch of my underwear and dropping my pants to show the spectator's selection.

Now, that's funny!

Dai Vernon's Inner Secrets of Card Magic

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Friday 29 July, 2022)

Dai Vernon's Inner Secrets of Card MagicIt's hard to believe there was a time when Dai Vernon didn't exist, and his name still casts such a large shadow over card magic thirty years after his death.

I feel almost embarrassed about writing a review for Inner Secrets Of Card Magic. What could a ham-and-egger like myself possibly have to say about professor Dai Vernon that better men than me haven't already said? Is it even necessary to write another gushing puff piece extolling the genius of a man who many consider the Pablo Picasso of card magic?

The answer is yes, and I'll tell you why.

I never knew the man or currently know anyone who did know him. Nor have I ever studied under his former protegees like Ricky Jay or Richard Turner.

I've only read about him over the years, and his name pops up like a bad case of herpes in so many magic books that I started to loathe him. I've consciously gone out of my way to avoid anything related to him.

And this complete lack of hero-worshipping makes me the perfect candidate to look at Vernon's work with a fresh eye and give an unbiased review.

I've learned that if you try to take your skills with a pack of cards to the next level, steering clear of Dai Vernon is impossible. So, I decided it was finally time to wave the white flag of surrender and put my willful ignorance and prejudice aside. And brother, let me tell you, am I ever glad I did.

At first, I was a bit hesitant. Vernon's oeuvre has been so mythologized over the years that I was expecting a perplexing dissertation on quantum physics. No person wants to feel that they're too stupid to comprehend a card trick. But as I worked through the chapters, cards in hand, I realized that the only thing I had to fear was fear itself.

This ease of understanding is partly due to co-writer Lewis Ganson. I've read other works by Ganson, and all share a common trait: clear, unambiguous descriptions that leave the reader with a complete grasp of the text.

That's not to say that I didn't find many of the sleights difficult. I found myself regularly dropping cards all over the floor. Some of the moves might even take months to master. But you can safely dismiss any fears that the material in Inner Secrets Of Card Magic is too complex. In Chapter Two: A Little Thought Required, a few tricks require zero sleight-of-hand, relying instead on subtle moves and misdirection.

Even if you were to read this book and not practice one move in it, Vernon's sly sense of humor and breadth of historical knowledge turn what could have been a tedious exercise into something fun and enjoyable.

I've now read the book three days in a row. It's so full of exciting, inventive ideas and subtle touches that I experiment with the information at hand like a mad scientist until my hands begin to ache.

I feel like a guitar player discovering Jimi Hendrix for the first time.

Do I have anything negative to say about this book? No, I don't. But let me make a recommendation that may ruffle some feathers.

After reading Inner Secrets Of Card Magic cover to cover, I believe that only those with a high reading comprehension level will have an easy time grasping this work. While simple to understand, the text has complex sentence structures and is peppered with words like "commence" and "endeavor," which may be over a casual reader's head.

If a college freshman's reading level is too difficult for you, I suggest you purchase a DVD or download one of the many videos featuring Vernon's work. Otherwise, you'll be in for a frustrating time.

If forced to list any faults, it's this: the photos illustrating some sleights can be grainy. But a lack of hi-def photography is a minor, practically nonexistent point to quibble over.

This ebook is more than a bargain at the going price of $9.90. It's the year 2022, and inflation is at a record high. The other day ago, I spent almost eleven dollars on a loaf of bread and two dozen eggs. In the future, if I have to choose between spending my money on food or Dai Vernon, then I choose Vernon.

If you love card magic and take it seriously, buy this book. Now!

Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Christopher Reynolds (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 21 July, 2022)

Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card MagicWhat makes a book on card magic underrated? Some will argue that most works are woefully under-read by much of the magic community, choosing instead to watch DVDs and YouTube videos to further their knowledge base. But even within the tiny bubble of hardcore card magic fanatics who read over every available card magic book word for word, some great books fall between the cracks or are ignored. Others are unfortunately not as admired as much as they should be or once were. They are either ranked below their value or not ranked highly enough.

With that said, let me tell you about Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic. Seeing that I'm not a copywriter trying to sell you soda pop or toothpaste, I won't insult your intelligence with over-the-top hyperbole: BEST EVER! GREATEST! OUT OF THIS WORLD!

But I will say this: Cy Endfield's Entertaining Card Magic is a superb book and deserves to be read by a wider audience.

I consider myself to be a professional hobbyist when it comes to card magic. I'm no master of the pasteboards but know enough sleight of hand to spice up any self-working trick. In my heart, though, I've always aspired to be a proficient finger-flinger. My bookshelves are lined with must-have classics like Expert At The Card Table and Greater Magic. I'll be honest with you: those books scare me. To quote movie icon Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force: "A man's got to know his limitations."

But Endfield's book was altogether something else. I never felt like I had just read a complicated textbook or technical manual. Instead, I felt like I had taken a private, one-on-one lesson from one of the forgotten greats of card magic, personally learning the best of his repertoire.

Initially published in 1955 in three separate parts, It's not the typical book of advanced card magic packed with complicated tricks and sleights that only other magicians can appreciate. Studying advanced sleight-of-hand from a book is a formidable task and can be about as dull as reading Marx's The Communist Manifesto, not to mention utterly confusing. But, writer Lewis Ganson uses his incomparable talent to simplify descriptions, step by step, to their utmost essentials.

From refreshing twists on classic tricks like the Ambitious Card to gambling effects like the three-card monte, Cy Endfield has created these routines to not only bewilder and amaze fellow performers but also to provide high-caliber entertainment to the lay public.

And he leaves nothing out, not only teaching you the routines and sleights but the psychology and motivation behind the moves.

Endfield was also a screenwriter and director of such classic action films as Zulu and its sequel, Zulu Dawn. So, it is no surprise that some of his effects highly emphasize storytelling and delivery. Tricks like Two To Divine, "Blackie Is With Us!" and Conjure Bones have plots that seem to have jumped from the pages of depression-era pulp magazines like Weird Tales or Adventure.

But don't just take my word for it. Endfield's legacy is hailed by none other than his former student and conjuring virtuoso, Michael Vincent. It's easy to assume that Vincent praises his former teacher's work out of a sense of loyalty or rose-colored nostalgia, but that would be a mistake. He praises the book because it's good.

Cy Endfields Entertaining Card Magic is a minor classic, but a classic nonetheless worthy of your attention (and your $19.00). Its title says it all. It's a guidebook for learning advanced magic that charms, delights, and entertains its audience. It should be read by every magician looking to add unique, tested material to their collection of tricks. From happy hobbyist to major-league move monkey, there's something in this book for everyone at every skill level.

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