Due to the amount of news of new shit coming out, here’s a cheeky follow-up for you all for some confirmed news but also some rumoured releases coming soon:
Helder Guimarães’ book, ‘Secret Language’ – Pre-orders available for $120 + shipping, limited run of 1000 and won’t be released until May 2019. Head over to the site to have a look at the synopsis of some effects and a list of details (15 techniques, 15 routines, 5 essays, 700+ photos). Everything Helder has released prior has always been excellent quality both in his material and production value, really looking forward to this
Juan Tamariz’ long awaited ‘Magic Rainbow’book to be published in English – borgeslibrary graciously pointed out in the previous post’s comments about Rafael Benatar confirming the book is now at the printer and is due out sometime this month. and Ted M heard through the grape vine that it was released at Magifest.
Jan 31st EDIT: Book is now available. Priced at $149.95 plus shipping at time of posting for the first edition (Thank you borgeslibrary & Ted M for your insights!)
Scott Robinson’s rumoured book looks to possibly be released sometime this year. No further details on who (Vanishing Inc were the last to mention it), how much or when it will be released. I’m a fan of Scott’s work, to the point of tracking down almost all of his previous notes and publications after going through his material in Steve Beam’s Trapdoor (Which you should already fucking own!)
Vanishing Inc’s reprint of ‘The Card Magic of Edward G. Brown’, which recently debuted at The Session . After being OOP since originally published in the early 1970’s by the Magic Circle, the book will soon be available for a reasonable price from Vanishing Inc. Unsure if this new edition will include any additional commentary to supplement.
Feb 4th EDIT: The Card Magic of Edward G. Brown is now available at Vanishing Inc for $60 USD. You will get a reprint of the original book in a much more affordable price point, as well as a study guide with additional content, including an unpublished Dai Vernon routine apparently.
Also debuted recently was a compilation of Dani DaOrtiz’ previous manuscripts, ‘Semi-Automatic Card Magic’ into one 140-page volume. Currently available for $58 USD directly from GrupoKaps (Updated edit: Thank you Denis Behr for the heads up!)
Pit Hartling announced back in November about a new edition of ‘Card Fictions’ with new and updating handlings, with a format in line with his ‘In Order to Amaze‘ book, which I fucking love. No firm details on release date, but looks likely to be similar to this last book possibly for pricing/distribution.
Feb 25th EDIT: Late to the party, but the new edition of Card Fictions is now available from Pit’s webstore for €35.
Steve Forte’s book on magic/gambling material should hopefully be released this year. To recap, it will be self-published by Steve and has been proofed by some of the heavy hitters and big names in magic today. There will be some amazing content in there from what I’ve heard with accompanying drills on practicing that are just fucking amazing. More to come as it becomes available.
Anything else good that’s flown under the radar?
A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New years, shitbags.
Just a quick one to catch you up on some good shit that’s out or coming out soon.
Released in mid-December 2018, this has been something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. One of the most sought after contributor’s of consistently high quality card magic has come out with a collection of his best material; Principia
For anyone who follows Harapan’s Instagram you’ll know that he is prolific in his output of well constructed, thought out and beautifully articulate insights on card magic; from his ‘Fully Booked’ reviews to his performance videos, varying between performing his own original creations and beautiful, re-vamped handlings of classic effects.
The book is available in both a standard ($60 USD) and deluxe edition ($150USD), both editions paired with a set of gaffed cards specific to effects within the text. The gaffed cards are also available separately for $15 USD for anyone needing a refill. Review coming soon!
Joe Barry & John Cottle’s ‘Modus Operandi’ magazine is back! After a bit of a quiet period, their website is back up with Issue 2 still available to order as I’m posting this (Issues 1 and 3 unfortunately sold out).
Ryan and Michael have announced a second printing of their seminal work on tapered decks, ‘A New Angle‘.
After the release of their book in 2017, it quickly picked up attention and became sold out. With some amazing material from Ryan and Michael and contributions from Nathan Colwell, Frank Fogg, Brian O’Neill, Lance Pierce and Harapan Ong, it’s easily become the standard I’ve set for what makes a new magic book worth getting. Also, if you’ve recently bought one of Eoin’s stripper jigs, this is the perfect companion book to go with it for some fucking amazing material.
Keep an eye out for more new on when this will be available for pre-order. Review coming soon!
What else is out or coming out that’s good?
Buenos-diddly-ding-dong you fuckers,
After a much deserved break (not really), I’ve decided once again to grace you turds with with my presence and knowledge. Count your lucky stars I didn’t just post a photo of my last bowel movement and call it a day.
As with my previous posts, I’m extremely overdue on a lot of promised content for a lot of people (Sorry Eoin!), so I’ll be working through the good, the bad and the bullshit-amazing now that I have acquired funding and some spare time for this hellish lifestyle that is being a fucking world-class magician/piece of shit on the internet.
Today, we’ll be looking at the beautifully hand-crafted Stripper jig, available from Eoin O’Hare at theperfectshuffle.com. Before we get into the review, a bit of background to how I came to find out about the jig.
Last year, I wake up to a text telling me to check out this new book, “A New Angle” by Ryan Plunkett & Michael Feldman, dedicated to new (and actually good) material with the stripper deck. I was a bit skeptical at first; stripper decks in recent times have achieved the joke status of being the “Hot-Rod” equivalent in card magic. Everyone seemed to own them, but no one seemed to do anything noteworthy with them or bring them out for a show or a session.
Luckily, I was swinging through San Francisco and Chicago for a trip and had the good fortune to meet up with both of them to see the material first hand and be absolutely fucking floored by it all. Every single thing they showed me from the book (and some not in the book) were just beautiful examples of how stripper decks can and should be used. If you haven’t already bought this book, be quick since it’s OOP I believe.
The first thing I noticed with both Michael and Ryan was that they both used the same brass and stainless steel contraption to make their decks, kept in a tidy green box, beautifully lined with pip motifs and green felt, closed neatly with a green ribbon.
I first sat through GGG with Michael, watching him trim cards one at a time, almost on autopilot. After seeing the good shit that he and Ryan had come up with, I decided then and there I had to get one for myself and see what else was possible with it.
Eoin’s stripper jig really is a thing of beauty. Historically, a lot of machined stripper jigs were quite large and cumbersome and not something you would imagine being able to easily transport or modify. Seeing some of the more traditional jigs/cutters, they were constructed like paper guillotines used in stationary stores/printers and generally hard to come by based on the stigma of card cheating. Some were fairly basic in construction while other versions had means to adjust or tweak the “work” put in.
For Eoin’s jig, it’s a compact, handheld and very versatile approach to the traditional jig. His design allows it to be adjustable to a wide variety of different combinations, allowing you to adjust it to different kinds of orientations/variations very easily for either the short edge or long edge of a playing card. He also points out that the symmetrical design, aside from being very aesthetically pleasing, was also intentional as it means a left or right handed person can pick it up and use it exactly the same way, no alterations needed. The mix of stainless steel with tidy brass features makes it very visually appealing without coming across as unnecessary dressings to tart it up; it looks as good as it feels to use. Solid and considered.
On Instagram, you can see how Eoin approaches the R&D phase for his different utility items, prototyping the parts using a 3d printer issues before machining and hand crafting the final product. The design and construction shows how he has considered numerous checks and measures that allow his Stripper jig to really be useful in configuring it and using it correctly. If you flick through some of his posts, you can find some different prototype designs he tried out before deciding on this one. The alignment marks, placement of the stops and notched gauges all play a carefully studied and integral part in helping you know exactly where you’re at when setting it up/using it.
So, why would anyone want to buy this when you can just buy a stripper deck from a store for a few bucks extra?
Well, first off, that’s just fuckin’ lazy.
Second, resorting to buying stripper decks has a lot of caveats and limitations; cost and availability are the first two points which come to mind.
Relying on buying stripper decks regularly can be a costly pain in the ass and you’re limited to whatever is commercially available, mostly Red or Blue Bicycle rider backs. Thinking further into it, there’s no way to check or know the quality or consistency of the “work” in the deck before you buy it with the mass-produced options. And if your usual store is out of stock, doesn’t have the colour or deck you want, you’re shit out of luck.
With this jig, you can make your own on the fly extremely easily and quickly and it’s much easier to travel with this rather than the traditional jigs. By making your own, the cards are much more expendable and accessible, so you can use them more often without having to worry about it or have a stripper deck with only very light work as your everyday deck.
Since you provide your own cards, you’re not limited just to Bicycle rider backs, or to having inconsistent work put into the decks. Also, you can experiment with a number of different things with this jig, not just the traditional taper, and open up a fuckload of possibilities.
The How (and How Much)
One of the big things to consider with this kind of thing is going to be cost involved and your own circumstances/use of it. Currently, the jig is available for €459 (€359 when it’s on sale, if you’re lucky) or around $600 USD from Vanishing Inc, both including shipping to anywhere in the world from Ireland.
On face value, it sounds like a fair bit of money if you’re just a hobbyist planning to make the occasional deck or experiment with different shit. On the flip side, it’s peanuts if you’re planning to regularly use stripper decks, or require a specific cuts or setups for a routine or part of your set that may cost you $20-30+ each time you have to source and replace them. That being said, most other machined jigs are much more limited in availability and can run much higher cost-wise.
The second thing to consider is the difficulty/learning curve for using it. I personally fucked up at least 3-4 full decks while I was practicing and getting used to configuring and handling it, how to best hold the jig and cut the cards etc.
Any quality issue with the end result I had was purely user error as I was getting used to it. Just be mindful that it isn’t something you can just pick up and run with on the first day and expect a perfect end result. It will require careful and slow practice initially to understand how each different step Eoin has laid out is tried and tested. Once you understand and become confident in setting it up and using it correctly, it becomes almost effortless and you will see the difference in the end result. You’ll shit yourself at how fine you can taper a deck if you know what you’re doing.
Some tips/interesting things I’ve found that helped when using this are to always use a new deck, fresh out of the box; always cut the “fat” corner with the most border and finally, create “template” cards as you find a configuration that you like.
What do I mean by that?
When you’ve finished trimming a deck and the cut is exactly what you want to replicate, you could just sit and cut a bunch at once. But what happens if you wanted to try another configuration (i.e. heavier or lighter tapers) but don’t want to lose that perfect setting you just honed in on?
Here’s what you do: Grab one of the ad cards out of the deck and cut it as well, marking it down however you want and put it aside somewhere for safekeeping. When you want to come back to it, you can put this card back into the jig, re-do the stops around this “template” card, and you’re set to cut a fresh deck with the same cut you’ve done before.
Aside from the jig itself, you’ll also need a few other things, based on advice and insights from Ryan, Michael, Eoin and a number of other users. One of them is a necessity, while the others are optional but definitely recommended
Single-edged Razor Blades
You’ll need to source some decent single-edged razor blades to go with the jig once you work through and blunt the initial three you get. These can be cheaply sourced from hardware stores or eBay. Usually a blade can last for a few decks, depending on how good the quality of the blades are and how you use them. I found when I was getting started, I would blunt them much quicker due to how I was holding them and trimming the taper off.
After cutting the deck, traditionally you would use a whetstone or another cutter/jig to round the tapered corner but one of the most ingenious tools to supplement the jig is the Sunstar corner rounder. The 3mm slot rounds the corner to match the rest of the deck. They can be cheaply sourced from Amazon or eBay. I highly recommend getting one.
After cutting and rounding the deck, you might notice that the cut edge can be slightly smoother than the other edges, almost “glassy” feeling. To rectify this, you can use a whetstone, a nail buffer (a great tip from David Blaine) or even a cardboard drink coaster from a bar (A great tip from Christian Schenk) to buff out the other edges or roughen the smooth edge to match.
So, is it worth it?
Fuck yeah it is
This isn’t some secret, unseen device that will “revolutionise” the way you do magic, hiding what it actually does with some bullshit marketing ploy. This is a hand-crafted, quality piece of machinery from Eoin with no sneaky reservations or double talk about how or what it can be used for. If you enjoyed the kind of material in ‘A New Angle‘ or are interesting in experimenting with tapered decks, this is definitely worth investing in.
If you’re still on the fence about it, the user guides are freely available on his website, showing the construction of the jig, how to set and configure the stops for different types of cuts/tapers and also maintenance/cleaning if required.
Check out Eoin’s website and instagram (@theperfectshuffle) for more of his work and other utility tools he’s created. Having also purchased the Pegger (giggity) and Breather jig, I can hand-on-heart say that everything he has put out is fucking amazing
Until next time,
It’s been a month or so since I eviscerated sleightlyobsessed‘s “Veering from the Royal Road” and he’s since come out with another download. Given that I’m a fan of his, after he responded to my last review and I want him to do well, I forked out the cash to review his latest work for you all.
You’re welcome (fuckers).
Andy gave a lecture to a group of limey card boyz in some flat in Lahn-dan and Ross Tayler filmed it (because his ridiculous chops, superb mentalism and big curly mop of hair weren’t enough – now he is a cameraman and producer – prick!).
Editors note: Love ya Ross!
This is a collection of sleights and tricks which I was excited to see because Andy is just excellent at executing complex sleight of hand and must have something to offer on the practice and refinement of such techniques.
I’ll start by saying this is 75% brilliant and 25% shit; you could probably stop reading there because it is definitely worth buying and you should buy it right fucking now. Like his other download, it is embedded in GumRoad and you can’t download it (unless you’re a complete luddite). The production is mostly shot from Andy’s left side, which I think is just logistics versus practical choice based on the set up of the room, but you can see what he’s doing for the most part. There are also Ammar Super-Practice style in-the-hands close-ups and over the shoulder shots after each section, making this whole production a vast improvement on his last one for visibility on the explanations.
So let’s break down the content.
False Swing Cut –
Looks brilliant when he demos it on Insta, it looks brilliant when he does it here and he teaches it “ok”. He hits all the main points for you to make this a very deceptive cut. There are some questions about it during the lecture because he doesn’t really teach it to begin with, but by the end you will be able to do it and it looks great. Solid start.
False Table Cut –
Not a fan of this, it looks like you’re doing exactly what you’re doing, even when Andy “performs” it. It’s taught semi-well and the close up’s really help. You won’t use this.
Turn Over Pass –
This is the “money shot” part of the download for me. Andy is really good at this move and he has some excellent touches on it. You can tell he’s worked on this and thought about it a lot from the way he teaches it. This reminded me of a Tony Chang download with ridiculous attention to detail and flawless performance. Bravo.
Diagonal Palm Shift –
Not a whole lot “taught” here, most just a quick glossing over how Andy does it and some tips here and there. I happen to do this move in the same way and the pointers are solid, but if you’ve never done a DPS before, you won’t learn how to do one here (and he openly admits that).
FTJ Cover Pass –
You won’t use this. It smacks of “Spanish school” where you do something that looks weird and then tell other magicians that it’s really deceptive and lay people won’t notice (sure they won’t). It looks weird and it is weird and it didn’t need to be included.
Final Destination –
Description: A way to equivoque to a single card.
It’s not “a way” to equivoque a single card, it’s just Andy performing a crap effect with an equivoque method exactly how anyone else would. You won’t use it because it’s boring- and it has to be in order for the method to fly. You won’t use this.
Single Phase Ambitious –
Description: My approach to the ambitious card which frames a single phase to make feel genuinely impossible.
The description is a little Ben Earl-ish… I’m not sure about the “genuinely impossible” bit, this is essentially a way anyone would come up with to do a single phase ambitious card. I don’t think the “touches” really added anything to the conversation. I’m not method mad; For example, I think the re-framing and scripting of some very basic stuff to seem more impossible, i.e. most of the latest shit that Ben Earl shamelessly regurgitates from Past Midnight as a flashy new download, is genius, but this isn’t. Pass.
Window Change + Window Palm + Imaginary Card –
Description: A colour change I developed to avoid the obvious stealing and replacing action of many colour changes i.e. the Erdnase Change. I also give two applications for the move including a very clean but angle sensitive card to pocket and an alternative handling to Tony Chang’s famous imaginary card routine.
Finally! This is what you expect when you buy something from Andy; the sleights he regularly showcases are used beautifully in an actual enticing effect! The work on the window change and Chang’s trick is great. The card to pocket is just glossed over, but you can piece it together. Good stuff. You’ll use this if you’re in Andy’s target demographic.
Hynposis Card –
Description: A single spectator thinks of a card and then sees it on top of the deck only to be shown it was never there. The trick is then made more impossible by the spectator holding a single card in their hand which they see as their selection only for it to be shown to be in the centre all along. A trick where from the outside nothing happens but the spectator is able to see there selection in various positions seemingly through suggestion alone.
Double orgasm. Again, he’s using the moves he showcases to create actual magic. This is a really strong performance piece for an individual that also plays for a large group. The scripting is clunky and a bit up it’s own arse (that’ll be the Ben Earl influence again) but this really is strong magic and well done. You will use this often.
Designed for Laughter –
Description: My take on the classic trick from Royal Road which has been streamlined with modern sleights and construction.
Fuuuuuuuck. We get it. Just stop. It was shit in the previous download and it’s still shit now. The construction is poor (as shown by how many times he had to run through the deck in the performance section) and “that” switch looks awful and just isn’t congruent. I’d take this one out back and shoot it if I were you Andy.
What’s the verdict and how much?
All in all I really enjoyed this download and felt like it definitely was money well spent. Get on it.
If I could make some suggestions for improvement they would be:
Stop with the Royal Road bullshit.
I get it – you European guys all have a fetish for “New Age” bullshit and putting out shitty, basic tricks with tiny tweaks and pretending they’re groundbreaking for some weird reason. If you perform this stuff for lay people, great; but it’s not generally stuff that warrants sharing with other magicians. If every moment is a brilliant moment, none of it is.
Stop with the Gum Road bullshit.
I get this too – magicians are cunts and some people pirate everything. The movie and music industry haven’t stopped it and unfortunately, you won’t either and GumRoad is a steaming pile of horse shit caked in Paul Gordon’s latest facefucking aftermath. Either price it so high that you make your money out of a few purchases or price it so low people will want to buy it direct. Either way, your price point and distribution method are both off.
More of the move monkey stuff plz.
Your audience will love the Window Change and effects and the Hypnosis Card effect too. This is why they follow you. This is your niche. No one would (probably) give a flying fuck if Tony Chang released his handling of the Tantilizer because it’s not his brand and it isn’t yours either. If you use this stuff in real life – great. Enjoy it. No one gives a fuck. We’re not always coming to you and watching your videos for workers. Sometimes we’re watching it for fun stuff we can show our magic friends and maybe our Insta followers.
Peace out, bitches!
Instagram for magic is now the “Penny for your Thoughts” forum on the Magic Café –
You know, the forum where Mentalists sell (read: “invest in”) other Mentalists over-priced crap (read: bullshit) and thank each other for the experience?
Over the last week, I’ve seen a bunch of really good magicians circle jerking each other over a new thing or download and every single time I’ve questioned what I missed. I get community. I get being supportive of your peers. But if something isn’t good, it isn’t good. And this one isn’t good. It’s not progress if we’re ending up at the same fucking stretch on the Royal road.
“Veering from the Royal Road” is Sleightlyobsessed’s first paid release to the magic community. If you’re not familiar with Sleightlyobsessed (Andy?), his Instagram page is mostly dedicated to him performing difficult sleight of hand flawlessly. His Turnover Pass, Double Lift, and PaintBrush change are things of beauty. So when I heard he was coming out with a download, I was excited; frothing at the loins is an understatement. When I heard it was titled “Veering from the Royal Road”, I was anticipating some of the classic plots from the book being updated with economical (read: less shit) sleight of hand to make the tricks cleaner, stronger and more contemporary.
Prior to purchase, there hadn’t been much information on this download so I had to buy it completely blind. I felt safe taking that leap of faith based on his previous work showcased on Instagram. But now I feel like I’ve met a nice girl who then proceeds to punch me in the dick and balls repeatedly for a solid hour; my initial optimism has turned into regret and a pretty bruised set of balls. It’s really that bad. But to make it worse, there’s a bunch of prominent magicians telling me that having my balls in this state is actually fantastic and I should be thankful for having them treated so roughly. If you like bruised balls, you like bruised balls. But don’t tell me these bruised balls are what I want or need to be a good magician.
Enough of the shit analogies, let’s get into the content.
What it costs and what you get
Cost: £15 or around $20 USD
Quality: The explanations are done “webcam” style, top-down with ½ of the screen being completely unused and Andy sitting so far back that his hands are barely in view half the time
Format: GumRoad streaming, no downloads.
Content: A welcome video and 3 effects performed and explained.
“When looking at a number of the effects from the Royal Road to Card Magic, I found their construction and handling to feel very dated. I have taken my three favourite effects from the book and reinvented them to make them more direct, using modern sleights and construction ideas”
You’ll notice that favorite is spelled above as favourite, because that’s how they do it in jolly Ole England. So to translate:
“When looking at a number of the effects from the Royal Road to Card Magic, I found their construction and handling to feel very dated. I have taken my three favorite effects from the book and digested them in their entirety and shit them out into this download.”
“Contained within the project are detailed explanations of my take on the following effects and sleights.”
A Card and A Number –
“An ACAAN style effect in which the spectator’s card ends up at a thought of number that additionally allows you to divine the number that they thought of. In this I teach a more chaotic variation of the Miller Table Cut/Control.”
The control is a bit of a novelty I guess, but the ACAAN is pure shit. It’s also not an ACAAN, it’s a CAAN. Don’t try and put lipstick on a pig and tell me to fuck it. The performance section really tells you everything you need to know about this trick. It’s process heavy and unoriginal. It doesn’t warrant publishing and smacks of John Bannon coming up with self-working tricks because… well… coz bored? The crazy thing about this is that the method is actually cool and something most magicians will have slept on when they first read it. But the process the method is wrapped in is so boring and transparent that they cancel each other out. I’m struggling to say anything more about this without going back to bashing my own balls in frustration.
Now You See It –
“A trick in which the magician attempts to guess the spectator’s card with a shocking transformation of a card under the spectator’s hand”
The only thing shocking about this effect is that anyone felt the need to perform it, never mind go to the trouble of recording the performance and explaining it. He makes use a very under-utilized sleight here, Marlo’s Upjog addition, that cleans up a myriad of processes magicians commonly use. Instead, see Tony Chang’s whiskey infused rant on MagicStream for more on the Upjog Addition (It’s a $1 to join MagicStream at the moment, which ironically is the same value of bills being stuffed into Brad Christian’s leather g-string – I digress). The Upjog Addition is nice, but the shitty use and cover of the Magicians Force at the end aren’t. It’s not a terrible trick, but it’s not adding anything to the conversation; it didn’t warrant publishing.
Designed for Laughter –
“The magician reads the poker face of a spectator whilst trying to divine a card which has been shuffled into the deck (by the participant). You are not only able to divine the card in a magical fashion but have an undetectable kicker ending.”
This effect is the perfect summary of this entire download because the construction is so incredibly poor. It just seems like another unfinished idea. Andy makes use of a great sleight here, Justin Higham’s Spread Switch, to really clean up some procedure (similar to the prior use of the Upjog Addition) and then goes and shits all over it with another switch that looks bad and isn’t congruent with the rest of the routine. Why? Because he needs to. The construction is poor because he uses techniques to solve his way out of problems he put himself into. Chicken. Egg.
What the fuck did I just watch?
To close, it feels like not enough thought has gone into this project. The construction of each idea/change starts off strong and promising then quickly shits the bed with some contrived or unnecessary change in direction of handling or procedure. It seems to smack of this new age of European Card handlers are extremely talented in the technical department, but their tricks are like unenthusiastic hand jobs (see and avoid: Tom Rose, Impressions at the Card Table). They’re circle jerking themselves into a Paul Gordon/Royal Road, jizz filled tornado and getting so much of it in their eyes that they can’t see their “improvements” aren’t improvements; they’re just variation for the sake of variation. Original isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just original. Sometimes it’s just shit. This is shit. Don’t waste your money.
Andy/Sleightlyobssesed, I respect your work and can clearly see that you are capable of some great stuff. Please release something in line with the brand you have created. You clearly understand sleight of hand and that’s what your following care about. No one cares about your “workers” if they aren’t congruent with your brand. Derek Dingle famously made his living on a handful of tricks, and no one gave or gives a fuck how he handled them. We want to see Rollover Aces, because the other mundane worker shit people do for lay people doesn’t always warrant discussion. You’re better than this. Stick to what you’re good at. I want you to be successful and I really think your BTW Series was excellent.
And for the rest of you magicians recommending people check this out, we know what you’re doing. You support me and I’ll support you. It’s gross.
Have you heard of Operandi?
You fuckin’ better well have. Lovingly put together by Joe Barry and John Cottle comes a magic magazine worth giving a shit about.
With contributors like Luke Jermay, Michael Weber, Gary Plants, Justin Higham and Joe and John themselves, the quality of content, care and production will make you cream yourself in someone else’s pantaloons.
You’ll also see items from some of the up and comers of UK workers, technicians and creators like Bradley Hodgins, Ross Tayler, Sav and Charlie Ordaina.
Issue 1 was a limited run and is unfortunately sold out, but Issues 2 and 3 of Operandi are still available for £25 each, shipped worldwide.
Jan 12th 2019 edit: New Modus website found can be found here to order and subscribe
Fuckin’ hop to it, bitchboys,
Before we get into the review, just a quick (Serious) note from the editor:
I’ll be working through a HUGE backlog of reviews of books, booklets and periodicals in the coming months. A lot of promised reviews for a lot of amazing people who I’ve enjoyed the company of along the way.
That being said, a huge apology to Raj for this being oh-so-damn delayed;
I owe you dinner and a beer or two next time our paths cross. I promise we’ll take some better photos next time too.
And now, a little bit about the mythical man that is Raj.
My first exposure to Raj’s more recent work (and how devilishly good he is) was after a good (French) friend of mine and Raj met at FFFF a few years ago, where Raj proceeded to fool the absolute shit out of him and I was waking up to a bullshit amount of messages on my phone at 4am, regaling me with tales of what the fuck just happened. Raj’s name had always popped up here and there in credits and discussions, an effect in the occasional magic magazines here and there and couple of lecture notes, but overall, he has remained relatively underground. The man definitely is playing it close to the chest and keeping a lot of his secrets under close guard.
Until the day he decided to spill the beans, we’ll be looking at Raj’s Mysteriouser and Mysteriouser, a small 54 page booklet collecting nine pieces of mentalism/mind-fuckery from his expansive repertoire (which he STILL hasn’t published much of.. HINT HINT RAJ!!!).
I initially was writing this review leading up to my flight to Las Vegas for Magic Live 2017, where I got the chance to meet Raj and witness a few of these effects first hand. After that meeting and a few messages back and forth with Raj, I completely scrapped the first draft; it was shit and didn’t do justice to how it felt to both experience the effects first hand as a spectator, as well as understanding the methods better from the man himself.
Before we get into it, full disclosure, I am not and never have been much of a fan of most mentalism or mental magic. The bulk of “mentalism” in print is so far up its own ass or completely contrived and just god awful to see people try pass off as entertaining that I would rather suck a microwaved fart out of my own ass.
Take note here.
I’m not saying mentalism sucks; there’s just more bad shit out there which muddies the waters of what good mentalism is capable of doing in the minds of our spectators when put together and performed properly. You have been warned.
That Sinking Feeling AKA N’Synch 3.0
Sight unseen of the performer, a spectator brings up the clock app on their phone and is asked to think of the month that corresponds to their birth month, birth date and add the numbers together. The performer can then reveal both dates.
I’m not really going too deep into describing this effect, because a lot of the “good shit” is mostly in how the performance is handled, as with most mentalism. The method itself is just gorgeous since you’re so far ahead from the start and is a significant improvement on the original method Raj had published in issue 11 of Bill Goodwin’s Penumbra magazine. I will say that if you’re going to learn this, learn the presentation in the Penumbra write up overlaid with the newer method, as the write up doesn’t contain the same level of detail for patter/presentation by comparison (if you’re a lazy prick who wants everything written for you).
Best of Friends
A deceptive as fuck method of revealing a thought of card, value, name or anything really from a small packet. This item is based off a David Britland effect published in Genii, but shifts slightly in how the handling is managed to create a much stronger disconnect of method to outcome.
I can’t say much more without giving it up, but this is extremely direct and like Raj points out, has a huge range of flexibility for the medium (Playing cards, business cards, ESP cards etc.), the context (in person or over the phone) but also the amount of different variables you can throw into it and still have a guaranteed outcome with little to no extra effort. Good shit.
Four everyday items (A watch, a coin, a pen and a set of nail clippers) are removed from the performer’s pocket and laid on the table. A spectator rolls some imaginary dice to come to a thought of number to mentally choose one of the four items. The performer reveals that the mental selection they ended on was staring them in the face the whole time; the game was rigged from the start.
This style of effect reminded me of Jimmy Finger’s “Free Will of Order”, although they’re completely unrelated method-wise. What really struck me with this effect was that Raj has taken the proverbial high road and made the effect into something you can have in your phone and perform at any time. Again, I don’t really like much mentalism, but this is the kind I can get behind.
A prediction is written down, the performer offers to alter the spectator’s reality a little. Using nothing but the spectator’s own forearm, the spectator closes their eyes and is asked to say stop when the performer touches their elbow. Not only is the performer nowhere near the spectator’s elbow, but the prediction matches the spot where the performer stopped.
Raj did this for me at Magic Live 2017 and it is just eerie how you can take a relatively simple thing and blow some fucking minds with it. I’m not saying anything else, except that this is fucking great. Do it.
Invisible Book Test
Imagine a book test without an expensive-as-fuck book. Raj has made a simple, yet extremely effective approach that achieves the outward appearance of a book test you can work from your pocket.
A spectator is taken through some guided imagery, picturing a book, a page number and a word in their heads. The performer has three predictions written down, held in the palm of the spectator. Each prediction matches the book’s description, the page number and the word just mentally selected by the spectator.
While the method reads fairly simplistic, it shows how solid the framework that Raj has set up is. You’re using some fairly fundamental magic/mentalism principles perfectly blended with some other subtleties to create a moment that feels like a book test, but you can just do it on the fly. Personally, I’d be using a slight variation on the presentation and handling, but what you’re getting is a fucking solid piece of magic.
Shifty One Faces North
One of Raj’s handlings for Open Prediction/Stewart James’ 51 Faces North plot. This was previously published as “Reading the Future” in Raj’s Buried In Print LIVE (2004) notes and Steve Beam’s Semi-Automatic Card Tricks, Vol. 5 as a follow up effect to his “Open Perception” routine. A spectator is asked to deal through the deck and deal a random card face down. The dealt face down card matches the performer’s open/closed prediction.
Without spoiling the method, it is hilariously simple but does require a bit of pre-show work to make it happen. Not my favourite piece from the notes, but still a good example of how this can fit into a much bigger set/routine with the right approach.
Spread the Mystery
From a spectator shuffled deck, the spectator whittles the deck down to a small packet, where the performer is able to perfectly divine their thought of card. This can even be done over the phone.
I fucking love this. It’s such a simple, yet effective piece of magic. I perform this for laymen and magicians and it just fries the fuck out of them every time. I’m not even going to say anything more except go learn this and just ruin people with it. You’ll thank me later. 10/10, would marry Raj because of this effect.
Chairway to Heaven
A chair test based on a card trick. Yeah. Score one for the card trick boys, you fuckers! Raj’s take on expanding a Nick Trost principle used in a card trick to the stock standard mentalist chair test/prediction, but then just keeps on going.
This feels like the chair test version of Paul Harris’ “Overkill”, where you just keep on smashing it into the spectator that you KNEW ALL ALONG HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH.
For the most part, chair tests that I’ve read fall into two categories; extremely good or extremely bad, most of which fall into the latter. Whenever I’ve come across different ideas on the chair test premise, it feels like I’m forced to jerk off using steel wool; it’s doable, but I’m not going to feel great about doing it. Raj’s method falls into the extremely good category as far as I’m concerned
A spectator has a choice of 6 chairs lined up on the stage. Some envelopes are mixed and one is placed on each of the chairs, making mention that one of the 6 envelopes has a special message just for her. The spectator finally chooses a chair and sits in it, holding onto the envelope.
The other 5 envelopes are shown to have a yellow sticker on the back, while the envelope she holds has a pink sticker. Inside is the message “Sit here… in chair 3!”. But she’s not sitting in the third chair. However, labelled on the back of each chair is a giant number, the spectator’s selected chair having a giant “3” on it. Fin.
The routine is set up in such a way that the above will always happen. As with most mentalism, there’s generally an element of certain choices having extra revelations built in, but I think Raj has realised that the audience will be too far gone at this point and it’s just adding insult to injury. As someone who’s not a huge mentalism enthusiast, I can appreciate the fuck out of this. Good shit
Melts in Your Mind
Raj’s brilliant M&M mind reading routine. I originally came across this routine as a reference to Hector Chadwick’s “Sweeties” from his Mental Mysteries of Hector Chadwick (2008) which I thorougly enjoyed. Raj’s original handling was published in 1997 in Lee Earle’s Szygy magazine, republished here for your pleasure. Also, if you love this kind of effect, check out Tyler Wilson’s Gummy bear handling from his gargantuan, partial nudity filled Penguin Live lecture.
Six imaginary M&M’s are laid out in a row in front of the spectators and the performer writes down a prediction and places it aside. The spectator narrows down to a colour and if it’s a peanut or regular M&M, which perfectly matches the performer’s prediction.
Hector and Tyler’s routines both use the actual candy as props, which allows the routine’s progression to speak for itself visually, while Raj’s routine using imaginary props does involve more careful patter and presentation to ensure the spectator and audience are following along, since the progression and denouement is all in their heads. it makes for an interesting approach and exercise in audience control and presentation.
So, is it worth getting?
You better fuckin’ believe it, boy! (or girl!)
Raj’s work is solid. After devouring this over and over and having Raj blow my mind with some of these pieces verbatim from the booklet, almost every effect became a new go-to piece of magic for me to fuck with people (except the Chair thing, because I’m not fucking carrying 6 chairs around with me). This isn’t bullshit mentalist pipedreams and contrived, ambiguous bullshit that most people try to pass off as ‘mentalism’. Raj is one of the “big boys” in the world of mental magic, and the strength of the stuff he’s sharing here shows exactly why. I’m making one of those chef-kissing-hand gestures as I write this sentence. That’s how great it is.
The booklet is current available as a hardcopy for $20 or a PDF for $15 from Vanishing Inc. Go buy it now, you fuckers!
A long overdue post for remembering and commemorating the most strange and influential man in the current generation of magic; strange in the best way possible, of course.
I only had a chance to meet Eugene a few times and each time was completely out of the realm of what I could have expected.
I walked in expecting a magician, a performer and a show.. but each time leaving as if I’d sat down and witnessed a force of nature.
I can’t say much more that hasn’t already been said by his close friends, confidantes and magic family.
Happy birthday Eugene,
Straight from Pit Hartling’s Facebook feed comes this glorious news:
Hot off the press earlier today – here is Denis Behr‘s new book, volume three in the “Handcrafted Card Magic” series.
And what an excellent book it is! A delight for all who love well thought-out, strong and entertaining card magic.
It’s not yet on Denis’ site for sale just yet, so I’ll be spamming the refresh key until it fucking does. UPDATE: Denis’ site is now live with Vol. 3 available for purchase
If you’ve never taken the leap to get any of Denis’ material before, now’s the time!
And now we play the waiting game…