52 Memories: Jack Parker leaves us his legacy
by Wouldn't you like to know?
Evening guys and gals,
For this next instalment, we’ll be looking at Jack Parker’s ‘52 Memories‘, beautifully produced by Andi Gladwin. I was hesitant to do this review simply because the background for this book’s existence is both unfortunate for the loss of someone making such a big impact on magic, but it’s also a celebration of Jack’s life and his work. I unfortunately never spoke with or met Jack, but from reading this book, his items published in Genii, Antimony, as well as finding a strange video that someone had sent to me over 7 years ago, I can appreciate how good his material is, and how much of a loss it was.
Out of respect for Jack and his friends at TSD, I’ll try and cut out most of the usual ranting and raving, but keep some colourful writing. If I like or dislike an item, I will say so. But I can say that it was hard to find anything that I really disliked with his work.
Also, this took a while to come out because I had written the review and then scrapped the entire thing, starting over from scratch numerous times. I wasn’t happy with how the review came out but realised I just needed to put it out there. My self-censoring created a feeling that I either gave too much credit if I didn’t like something, or not enough credit to the items I loved. I have tried to explain myself where I did and did not like something. If you feel my explanation is inadequate, you can suck my balls, or leave a comment. Both are fine.
Let’s begin, shall we?
I Know Kung Fu
A selection is sandwiched between two Black Kings, vanishes and reappears between two Red Kings, ala Paul Harris’ ‘Grasshopper’ or Jennings’ ‘Visitor’. The ending is brilliant; the effect is repeated, but now the Black Kings vanish leaving just the selection, and the Black Kings are found sandwiched between the two Red Kings. I really enjoy packet effects like this, which utilise what is available for maximum effect. The amount of subtlety that Jack has in simply displaying and laying down cards is shown in this effect. You’ll learn some nice ideas for this effect, such as a display by Daniel Rhod as well as Jack’s ‘TumbleGem’ switch, which is very handy . The vanish/production in the first phase is exceptional. If you perform without a table, look into John Bannon’s handling of the first phase (‘Wicked’ in ‘Mega Wave and other Fractal Adventures’, 2010, p.69). For the second phase, Jack’s is the one you will want to do, hands down. Bannon’s only has the Sandwich cards changing places, while Jack’s has an off-balance transposition style effect and a very beautiful vanish.
Jack’s handling of ‘Mexican Poker’ or the Ten Card Poker deal. 10 court cards are introduced and the spectator decides whether they will take the bottom or top card of the packet. Regardless of the choices the spectator makes, the performer surprisingly wins with the four aces. The method involved is very ingenious. My favourite handling for this is the Solomon/Bannon approach published in ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’ as ‘The Power of Poker’, 2004, p.189. Andi gives a thorough history of this plot and previous sources worth looking into. The Bannon approach does not reveal what cards are used until the end, while Jack’s approach adds in a kicker by having the aces appear when the original cards were initially shown to be all court cards.
Girl’s Night Out
Going into this effect, I was really not looking forward to it. The basis of this effect is Bro John Hamman’s ‘Twins’ routine (‘The Secrets of Brother John Hamman, 1989, p.93. Not to be confused with the ‘Gemini Twins’ routine by Fulves/Anneman). The most commonly known versions of this plot are ‘End of Story’ on volume 2 of Bill Malone’s ‘On The Loose’ DVD set, and ‘Twins’ in volume 3 of Michael Ammar’s ‘Easy to Master Card Miracles’ DVD set. With these effects, there are a number of discrepancies to go along with the plot, so it just turns out being a condensed packet version of a story deck using only four cards. This never appealed to me, but then I read Jack’s routine.
Jack uses the same plot, adds in a bit of Jennings’ Visitor’, and removes a number of issues I feel exist with the previous routines. Along with the focus on just ONE main ‘character’, the Queen of hearts, he has added both the Jacks and the Kings and keeps them separate during the effect. The Queen is added to one packet and appears in the other, and this is repeated. After each phase, the cards are reduced, until you only have the four king remaining, which turn into the Queen of hearts and the remaining Queens.
The main reason this routine is better compared to the others is because there’s less bullshit going on, it’s much more direct and fairer for the conditions, and there are no questionable moments during the routine. When I say less bullshit, I mean that the entire routine is not exploiting a single discrepancy over and over again to achieve a magical effect. I’m all for discrepancies, but overuse means people become aware of this. In the case of this effect, people begin to realise you’re showing groups of cards multiple times, but they aren’t sure how. While this may seem okay, because it’s just an effect, it means any effect from there on in which utilises a similar discrepancy or principle will be scrutinised.
One of the better points I found with Jack’s routine is that he utilises sleights such as Hamman’s ‘Swivel Switch’, Jennings’ ‘Rhythm Count’ and Daryl’s ‘Rising Crime Display’ in ways that they SHOULD be used. This is a major point that should be noted. I’m seriously fucking sick to death of seeing people butcher decent effects and methods by not focusing on finer points of how to properly use these kinds of things. Jack directly points out what SHOULD be done when doing these sleights that add layers of plausibility. If you don’t agree with me on this, fuck off. Also, there is an excellent method of getting a natural break in the Comments section at the end of this effect. Overall, the effect structure is excellent and the finer points in this routine are worth applying across all sleights you perform.
Twelve Card Monte
This is essentially a three card monte style routine using three 4 of a kinds, with the packets being openly switched then changing places. While the idea is interesting since it makes the conditions much ‘fairer’ as you’re unable to switch entire packets easily, this is more suited to laymen. It’s nicely made, has an Ace-kicker ending, but I just didn’t feel like it was worth adding to my usual routines.
Magician VS. Magician
An interesting plot where there is more subtlety than sleight of hand in achieving the end result. The magician performs a poker-style effect, recounting how he had gone head to head with a crooked gambler. Each player starts with 4 cards each, which turn out to be the four Jacks and the four Kings. Each player suddenly has been caught cheating, and each packet now consists of 5 cards. To make it fair, the players switch a card from their hand with the other person, and the finale being that both the magician and the gambler’s hands now consist of two Royal flushes. This is more of a showpiece style of effect, but with most of the items in the book, there is a level of understanding and lessons to be learned from each instance.
Cross Eyed Surprise
If you’re familiar with David Regal’s excellent effect ‘For Marlo’ (‘Close Up and Personal’, 1999, p.49), then you will appreciate this. It’s a handling using less cards, but achieving a ‘Visitor’ style effect, while Regal’s is more of a ‘Reset’ style effect. A red Ace is sandwiched between the red Queens and a black Ace is sandwiched between the Black queens. Although the packets are kept far apart, the aces transpose. This is repeated again in even cleaner circumstances. The final phase looks to be just another repeat, but you get the off-balance style ending, where the Aces are together on one side of the table, and the Queens are on the other. There are some excellent displays and ideas used to give the appearance of utmost fairness.
CHAPTER 2 – MOVES AND TOOLS
While the title says Jordan, it can also be applied to any Elmsley/Jordan style count. The idea he has given is to nonchalantly stagger the cards as they are counted to give an appearance of multiple backs at once, giving an appearance that you’re seeing every card at any point during the count. Although the idea may seem a bit obvious, no one does this and this kind of approach Jack shows in all of his magic can/should be applied to numerous sleights. There tends to be a shitty trend for magicians to learn a sleight and perform it exactly the same way. When people say that you should never repeat an effect or use the same move multiple times because someone will become aware that something is happening in that moment, it’s not because the move is bad. It’s because the people performing the move are doing the same actions. Look into Ascanio and the European school of magic. Think about what you’re doing and care about it, for fucks sake.
The Guilty Change
A delayed colour change where a card is turned over, left out jogged and is turned over again to show it has changed. The idea behind this is similar to the ‘Interlock’ principle, however he adds in some points to cover discrepancies for it’s use. I didn’t really like this, simply because getting to/out of the required situation is not very common. The change itself is very solid, but I just feel that without the context of an effect where the required position is achievable, it does not have as much of an impact.
Slip Slide Force
A variation on the classic Hofzinser spread force which is excellent. This adds an extra level of casual handling of cards to an already deceptive force. I can’t say too much about this without giving it away, but it’s an exceptional handling of the spread force. The way it is handled allows the appearance that the selected card is never out of sight. It shares the same visual deception seen with things like the Ellis/James/Smith move. Look this up.
The Aerobic Switch
A two-for-two switch. Jack’s intention with this move seemed to be creating the appearance of no possibility of switches by the constant motion and visibility of the cards. It feels like something Ascanio would do. There’s also a nice variation for the last part of the switch by Paul Cummins. I tried to do this with the suggested handling and rhythm (which Jack emphasises as necessary for this kind of move), but I feel that this would be most deceptive with an extra beat just before the final part of the switch occurs. An interesting exercise, but there are probably better switches in existence.
The Ballerina Double
This was previously mentioned in Rich Avile’s ‘Above the Fold’ review, and if you haven’t read that review, then why are you even here? In Rich’s handling, this double technique was used in conjunction with another move to create a colour change with a kickback. This is more so going over the double itself. As before, this move looks very elegant and as Jack uses it in a later effect, it’s more of a display than a normal turnover. That being said, this is either something you will adopt because it fits you, or simply think it’s a nice idea and move on.
Parker Varies Regal
As the title implies, this is Jack’s variation on a David Regal move, specifically his ‘Isolated Force’ from ‘Close-Up and Personal’ (1999). Comparing the ideas and subtleties used in both Jack and David’s handlings, I can honestly say I preferred Jack’s. However, while the ideas were nice, it just felt strange to perform. An idea I thought of while fiddling with this move was to get to the last step, but instead of performing what’s described, perform the end part of Gary Oullette’s Touch force and the first part of a double undercut action. Also, with the given situation, there’s an item on p.29 of ‘The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley vol. 2′ (1994), which seems like an even better approach to this kind of force and has an exceptionally free handling of the deck for the final part. I have just given you two things to look up; one is amazing and the other decent. Don’t fuck them up.
Thumbs Down Tent Vanish
While this is only a finesse on Arthur Finley’s fairly standard Tent Vanish, it proves how little attention people pay to the finer points. This kind of move has been ruined by people who take the basic idea without understanding why it works, perform it and assume it’s deceptive. Jack’s finesse focuses on the point that most people who do the move tend to overuse the thumb on the left hand, causing it to look more ‘movey’ than it actually is. As a finesse, he makes an excellent point. If you already do a good Tent vanish, it wouldn’t hurt to try this out. If you do a bad one, learn this and do it properly.
The Zen Spread
If you’re familiar with Ascanio’s Open Display (Card College vol. 3, 1998, p.599. Also see, Arnaud Chevrier’s performances on youtube and MagicVideoDepot), then this is something worth looking into. It’s an extension of that style of move to more cards in one hand. This is perfect for a routine such as the ‘Invisible Palm’. While it may seem obvious when you read it, do not skip over it. Take note on this, as it will come into play later, and is another life lesson in handling cards well. There’s also a handling to close and turn over the spread using both hands, which some may feel is important.
CHAPTER 3 – TRICKS WITH A FULL 52
Jack’s take on Peter Duffie’s ‘Hellraiser II’ from his ‘Effortless Card Magic’ book (1997, p.163). This is essentially Marlo’s ‘Elevator’ plot (originally published as ‘Penetration’ in the ‘Sphinx’ magazine, vol. 47, no. 4, June 1948), but a lot of the bullshit has been cut out. This routine has an almost identical appearance to Duffie’s for the first two phases, and then the kicker ending which apparently caught Duffie off guard when Jack showed it to him. Just give this a run through once and you will see how economic the method is. There’s also an effect mentioned in the fourth point of the Credits section which is one of my favourite effects. If you look this up, or know this effect, keep it to yourself.
Also, if you have any taste in good card magic, get Bill Goodwin’s current lecture notes, available directly from Bill here. There’s an effect called ‘Duplex’ with some variations also in there. It is my favourite handling of this plot, and seeing Bill perform this live is awe-inspiring.
Hard To Get Just Got Easy (with Tomas Blomberg)
The opening line for this effect is brilliant. This is a two card selection effect, based on an R.W. Hull trick, where one is physically picked (the easy one) while the other is thought of (the hard one). Some interesting by-play happens where it looks like the magician screws up, but then salvages himself and finds both selections. Without giving too much away, there is the use of a fairly common switch in there for the final revelation which I have never been a fan of. It’s just one of those moves that has always irked me. The rest of the effect is brilliant. If you like this kind of effect/presentation, see Rich Aviles’ ‘Two Wrongs’ effect in his book ‘Above the Fold’. Shout out to Tomas for inspiring the basis of Jack’s effect. I want to lick your forehead.
Three On The Button
A variation worked of Roger Smith’s ‘Maxi-Twist’, worked out with Allan Ackerman. This was kind of a mixed bag for me. I liked the method, but didn’t like the effect. After 3 cards are lost and selected, the 4 Kings do a twisting sequence, an ambitious phase, and then two of the Kings turn into selections, and then all four kings are found face up in the deck sandwiching the final selection. With what I’ve read and seen so far of Jack’s work, I expected a quirky presentation to go with this routine, but unfortunately only bare-bones narration is given. Some may like this, some won’t. I didn’t, simply because for the amount of things going on, it needs something relative to jump from points A to B, otherwise it’s just a blend of different plots to achieve something new. I know I’ve already mentioned this in the Regal review, but John G’s ‘Tailspin’ effect in vol. 2 of his ‘Brainstorm’ DVDs is well worth looking into for twisting sequences, as well as a nice amalgamation of plots.
The Bled and The Rue
Seeing the write up of the effect, it seems very heavy but in performing the effect, it’s actually very short and to the point. You have a card selected from a red backed deck, and take a guess at the colour. The deck is then separated into reds and blacks in two separate spreads. To make it harder, a blue deck is brought in, the reds and blacks are separated and added to the spreads of red-backed cards. Each spread now has the correct face colours, but different back colours. The spectators spread is shown to consist of all red backed cards, and the magician’s being all blue backed cards with the exception of one; the selection. This effect can be played up quite a bit, and with some tweaks could be a showpiece. This is based off an effect from ‘The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley, vol. 2′, 1994, p.131, which I feel is a much better effect overall when compared side by side. In the Elmsley effect, the spectator can take either deck without the method needing to be changed, and the effect is identical. It also feels more tangible for the audience as the conditions for a colour changing deck/transposition are well established in the course of the effect and so make it much clearer when experiencing it.
Long Dimension Phone Call
This is a very quirky presentation, where Jack calls his inter-dimensional friend Tomas to help him do a card trick. As soon as I read ‘phone’, I almost switched off because I thought it would be a self working trick that could be done over the phone. Most of which are usually shit. Fortunately, this is not the case. The effect is that four of a kind (such as the four 7’s) are changed one by one to be another four of a kind. You then proceed to produce the original four of a kind in a very clean manner; one under the spectator’s hand, the second reversed in the middle of the deck, the third being under the card box and the fourth in the card box. If you have ever performed Paul Harris’ ‘Interlaced Vanish’ or any variant of that effect, you will know the feeling of cleanliness I’m talking about. It’s a great effect, the method could be tweaked for the first change for something like Jack Carpenter’s ‘Impulse Change’, but how you would proceed would need to be considered to keep the structure of the routine flowing.
Alone In The Dark
This is a combination of a great presentation, with an exceptional effect. It reminded me of Aronson’s ‘UnDo Influence’, but with less ‘work’ needing to be done, but a lot achieved for the work done. A spectator chooses a random number, and remembers a card that lies at her chosen number in the pack. The pack is reassembled and mixed. The spectator is asked to deal down to her chosen number and finds the selected card still there. This is a showpiece and requires explicit instructions since the spectator handles the deck for almost the whole effect.
If you’re a fan of Vernon’s ‘Five Card Mental Force’, you may find this to be an interesting approach to it. Tom Frame published a routine called ‘Psyboards’ in the September 2005 issues of Magic, which Jack has taken and expanded upon to create a way to cover any possibilities while also giving a higher hit rate for a better outcome. I applaud Jack for taking the time to actually sit and work through this, but for the effort involved for the effect, you aren’t getting a whole lot out of it. If it does hit for the better outcome, then you have an amazing piece of magic, but for the remaining outcomes, it does not have the same impact. Comparing to this, I personally would prefer an effect like Bannon’s ‘Dead Reckoning’ from ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’, 2004, p.88. The conditions feel more tangible for the audience, there’s more leeway involved for the spectator’s choice and the outcome is always going to be the same.
Rump Shaker (with Tomas Blomberg)
I am a huge fan of the possibilities involved with the Gilbreath principle. The level of depth that some people achieve using the principle is insane, and this effect proves how well it can be utilised. What essentially happens is an expose-style routine of showing how to cheat, but in the course of the effect the deck is dealt and shuffled (legitimately) and the aces are dealt repeatedly to the performer. In the final round, the aces are dealt to the performer’s hand again BUT the performer leaves every other player with excellent poker hands. I will say that getting into the effect is kind of heavy, but is well worth the effort. I will also say that there are a number of people such as Roy Walton, Karl Fulves, Woody Aragon and Hector Chadwick who are utilising this in such different ways that achieve some amazing outcomes. Worth looking into and studying.
A handling for an unpublished Luke Dancy sandwich effect. You place the two red Kings on the table, show a selected card on top of the deck and then the cards on top of the deck are the two red Kings and the tabled card is the selection. As a stand-alone effect, it’s very short, but very direct visually. I feel it’d be more suitable as an additional phase in a larger routine. This kind of off-balance transposition has become quite popular in the last 30 or so years, with Roy Walton, Jerry Sadowitz, Bill Goodwin, J.K. Hartman and Paul Harris each having effects with this as part of the ending. This effect also utilises Kaufman’s ‘Radical Change’, Vernon’s ‘Interlock’ as well as Marlo’s ‘Breakless Curry Turnover’, which should not be new to you. If they are, please exit this page and never come back. Ever again. Yes, you. Fuck off.
I have a lot of love for this plot because I spent a few weeks researching this plot and every handling I could find. Some people refer to it as the ‘General Card’ while others refer to it as the ‘Universal Card’ (Karl Fulves, ‘By Any Other Name’, ‘Pallbearer’s Review’, First Folio, Winter 1967). It can be with a single card such as a Joker, a small packet, or a whole deck but the effect overall is fairly similar. In Jack’s case, it is most similar to Larry Jennings’ ‘The Changeling’ effect (found in ‘Epilogue’ Special No.3, part 1 or ‘The Cardwright’, 1988, p.181) The effect is that three selections are taken from the deck, and three extra cards are held by the performer. The first selection is added to the packet and all four cards are shown to be the same value, such as the Aces. The first selection is removed and the second selection is added to the packet, where the value of all four cards are the value of the second selection, such as the Queens. For the final phase, the third selection is added, but the packet is shown to have changed to a Royal Flush. There is a lot of potential for this method/plot combination and Jack has taken some of the downsides of the Jenning’s routine and utilised those properties to make the kicker ending. Learn this, you will enjoy it. Also, if you enjoy this plot, Roy Walton’s ‘Universal Ghost’ from ‘Epilogue’ is excellent. There is also a routine by Bill Goodwin published only in Japanese that is bullshit-crazy and awesome.
This is an interesting method which involves Jack’s technique which he’s called ‘The Whiskers Split’. A card is selected and lost in the deck, and the Joker is introduced. The Joker then splits into two cards, totalling 17, which is the location of the selection from the top of the deck. He also explains how to get into this effect from a shuffled deck, which is a very useful tip if you perform from a shuffled deck but require some setups. In terms of his ‘Whiskers Split’ move, it is very unusual but a nice idea. For this particular effect, I would have performed something similar to the first production used by Bill Goodwin in his ‘Triad’ routine. It’s a good effect by itself, but I prefer this slight change.
As I said in the review for Rich Aviles’ book, I am a big fan of this routine but my current favourite handling is closer to Rich’s. Being that this is the predecessor for Rich’s routine, the effect is almost identical but the method is achieved via different means. In this routine, the card separating the upper and lower halves which changes to the selection(s) is seen before the revelation to be the Joker, while in Rich’s it’s identity is not known until the end, which is part of the revelation. I will say that the selection procedure in Jack’s routine is much more efficient for the requirements of the effect. If you enjoy this kind of effect, I recommend you to study both Jack’s original routine and Rich’s variation. If you are aware of any other versions of this routine, let me know. Highly recommend this effect.
Double Barrelled Shotgun
This is something that will give you a lot of ideas. In essence, the effect is a mini-ambitious card sequence with the Jack of hearts rising to the top every time the performer snaps his fingers. The spectator is then asked to try it but seems to have failed. The spectator keeps clicking, where the Jack of hearts is then found reversed close to the top of the deck. The rest of the deck is spread and the other 3 Jacks have also reversed. There are also some mentions of how to improve the effect by using Walton’s ‘Trigger’ move, which can be found in the first volume of ‘The Complete Walton’ which is coming out soon. While this is not a show-stopper, it is something worth looking into because of how useful the ideas are in this example.
A handling of the supposed Hofzinser problem, but logically justifying the introduction of the four of a kind used to ‘determine’ the spectator’s selection. Three cards are placed aside as a prediction, and two spectators each choose a card. One of the cards is hidden away, while the other is shown to match the prediction cards set aside, leaving you with 4 Kings. Without doing anything further, the King whose suit matches the other spectator’s selection turns face down and then is shown to be the selected card, while the card hidden away is shown to be the missing King. I really liked this handling because it makes sense to introduce the Kings as a bi-product of the effect rather than just for the sake of it. Also, the handling is brilliant for the first phase. If you like John Bannon’s work, or Ortiz’ take on this, then you will appreciate this. Definitely worth looking up.
CHAPTER 4 – MAGIC FROM THE LAMP;
Another look at Jack’s tricks from Genii.
(Originally published + Latest versions of the same effects)
Detour (Oddservation Redux)
According to the write-up, J.C. Wagner loved the first effect, and I have to say that it is brilliant. Although different in method and effect overall, it has a feeling similar to performing Edward Victor’s ’11 Card Trick’/ the three card handling used by David Williamson and Greg Wilson. It also has that feeling of Brother John Hamman’s material, which is unorthodox but amazing. A quick tip; look up Hamman’s ‘Two Card Trick’. You will shit yourself.
Back to Jack’s effect ‘Oddservation'; eight cards are removed, four given to the spectator and four held by the performer. They each take their top cards, note their identities and exchange them. The performer then shows that he not only has his original card, but also the spectator’s card. Also, those are the only cards he is holding. When the spectator looks at their four cards, they are the four aces. The method is excellent, and it is yet another crucial lesson in making an effect through clarity and understanding of the circumstances. The main point to learn here (as with the Hamman reference) is that YOU guide the circumstances and how they should and will be perceived. So far, it’s my favourite Jack Parker item that I’ve learnt.
For ‘Detour’, it is an extension of the previous effect using the same structure, however there is an extra phase in the middle where a card vanishes from your packet and reappears in the spectator’s and the final phase shows a Royal Flush instead of the four Aces. Out of the two, I like ‘Oddservation’ if I am going to perform it, but ‘Detour’ could suit you better. They are both solid routine. It just comes down to which middle and ending you’d prefer.
This was recommended to me by the man in my basement, Rich Aviles. It’s an excellent effect where the two spectators get some cards, make a free selection and shuffle it back in to their own packets. The magician causes the free selections to not only reverse, but also transpose between the two packets. This utilises Jack’s ‘No Fuss Switch’, a variation of Marlo’s ‘A.T.F.U.S’ which everyone butchers because they have no fucking idea how to properly do these kinds of moves. The evolution of the Marlo move is shown in Jack’s handling which is almost like a Kosky Switch added onto it. I have some things with the effect that could be changed slightly, but overall it’s worth doing. Also, directly after this effect, there’s a section with photos commemorating Jack’s life, family and friends. There’s a picture of Tyler Wilson with some of the most intense sideburns I have ever seen.
All That Jazz
Two variations of Peter Kane’s ‘Jazz Aces’ effect (‘Another Card Session’, 1971) but with Jack’s twist added to them. As I’ve stated before, I am not a huge fan of performing any ace assemblies for some reason, but one of the first routines I ever ‘worked on’ to change around was the original ‘Jazz Aces’, so I do have a lot of respect for well constructed and properly thought out assemblies. The two handlings offered here are essentially the same effect, but the second seeks to remove some discrepancies while also keeping the packets separate during the effect. Four Jokers are introduced along with four Kings. A joker is placed on the leader King, and it turns into another King. This is repeated until all four Kings appear with the leader King, and the packets of Jokers is shown to have changed to the Aces. I enjoyed reading and practicing them for the ideas involved; Jack has a great take on using an Elmlsey style grip for the Hamman count and the multiple lift from a small packet in the course of the effect. If you’re into assemblies, it’s worth reading. If you’re not, read it but use it for the Elmsley grip Hamman count.
I am all for using gaffs when they make a huge difference. In this case, I feel like the first effect was not utilised as well as it could have been and the payoff was minimal for the handling and gaffs used. In ‘Remote Control’, the spectator takes the shuffled deck and cuts it into two packets and have them reverse an unknown card in each packet. After the whole procedure they have found they’ve reversed the Jack of Hearts in one packet, and the Jack of Diamonds in the other. That’s it. While the effect is hands off after the start, for what’s involved I expected there to be a more substantial effect. If you’re wanting to perform this effect with less procedure, and no gaffs, look into Phil Goldstein’s ‘Redivider’ (2002), one of the most underrated manuscripts to come out in the last 10 years.
However, in ‘Manual Operation’, the effect is extended to finding all the cards in a Royal Flush rather than a pair, and the presentation seems much more fitting. This reminds me of a Derren Brown effect he performs where there are four cards laid out and a fifth is selected to complete a poker hand. I have also seen Justin Higham (‘Jungian Poker’ in ‘Dexterity Manual’, 2008, and Ben Earle ‘Pluckley’ in ‘Past Midnight’, 2007) with their own variations on this plot which dates back to a 1939 issue of the ‘Sphinx’. The effect is much better and the presentation much more fitting for the kind of effect. I feel there’s more payoff for this compared to the gaffed handling.
On, In & Under
‘On, In & Under’ is a strange kind of effect. By nature of the method, it imposes on the situation of what happens. It is like a ‘Reset’ routine, but there are four Kings and only three 2’s. I remember learning this originally from Jack’s One Man Magicana in Genii (June 2006), and thinking that the effect was excellent. Give this a run through once and you will like it.
For ‘Visualisation’, the changes are worthwhile and make the effect have a solid presentation to justify the off balance transposition, as well as give more clarity to the position of the cards before the revelation. One of the main points he has changed aside from the presentation is the use of random cards rather than another three of a kind. The effect was good as is, but this change makes it much more tangible for the audience and so creates a better impact when the transposition occurs. Even if you don’t like this type of effect, the presentation alone is worth looking into for ideas if you do anything with spectators holding cards.
CHAPTER 5 – THAT SOMETHING EXTRA
Can Can Coin
This is a weird idea that some will jump onboard saying is genius, but it won’t suit everyone. A small coin is dropped into an open can of soda and then, with both hands shown empty, the coin is pulled through the bottom of the can. Read the method and see how genius it is. While it may seem like a very obvious path to follow, the method is hidden so well. Also, part of the method was inspired by a Graham Swift novel. Another tip of the hat to Jack Parker for not releasing this as a one-trick DVD.
Flat Rate of Interest
This is something which has become quite popular over the last 30 years or so. John Bannon produced a Black 8 ball from a card case. Dr Sawa produced a lemon from a playing card. Multiple gaffed cards have been released recently, one of the most popular being influenced by Cyril Takayama’s performance of the classic ‘Chicago Opener’ but producing a Chocolate Kiss printed on the back of the card as the finale. Whether Jack was influenced by any of these is not noted, but there is a clear relation of effect. In Jack’s version, a signed card and coin are pressed together, but the coin gets ‘stuck’ in the paper folds of the card and is printed on there. It is then ‘popped out’ of the card, leaving the signed selection and coin separate again. It is not a long routine, but is an interesting idea if you do any Coin Cut routines such as Hi-Ho Silver. A very interesting approach to this routine would be to combine it with an idea from Ken Krenzel’s ‘Ingenuities’.
Cain & Cord
This is another Coin Cut routine, but with an interesting presentation attached to it. A card is vanished and then a card is selected and held against the table by the spectator’s finger. The performer then states that the coin is beneath the selected card. The card under the spectator’s finger is shown to be an indifferent card and then the coin is found in the deck next to the selection. The selection is then made invisible and ‘folded’ around the coin. The folded card around the coin then visibly appears. It’s an interesting take on a fairly common plot. Again, it’s not too long but the ideas associated to it are very good.
Ring Vanish Sequence
As the title implies, it’s a sequence of moves which allows you to vanish a ring and show both hands empty before reproducing the ring. If you already do any kind of flourish or magic with rings, such as Garrett Thomas’ ‘The Ring Thing’, then you will find this to be worth looking into. If you don’t do any kind of ring magic, give it a run through at least once before disregarding it.
A 3 card monte routine, but with an interesting approach to it. Three cards are shown, two red backed Jokers and one blue backed Queen. On the back of each Joker in big bold letters is the word ‘JOKER’, and the queen is marked similarly with ‘QUEEN’. The first phase has all the Jokers changed to blue backed with the word ‘QUEEN’ on them, and the tabled card is then shown to have an eye test chart on it. I really liked the idea of this approach to it, as it makes the routine more palatable and easier to follow. However, there are only two phases so I felt that the qualities that came out with Jack’s approach were too short-lived. If you were able to utilise the cards to achieve an additional phase or two before this effect, it would be worth doing.
Jack’s 3 part routine with a double-backer. There are some very interesting points Jack raises in utilising the double backed card. For the first routine, the four Kings travel one at a time from a packet of cards back to the deck. The next phase allows an interesting transposition sequence between the selection and one of the Kings a few times, and then finally the four Kings do a ‘bank robbery’ effect. If you’re a fan of Paul Harris’ ‘Tap Dancing Aces’, you will enjoy this routine. This deserves a run through with cards in hand to see how well a double-backer can work when using it in certain contexts. I also really don’t like the ‘bank robbery’ as a plot because it’s been overdone and so many poor handlings exist. It’s like the 21 card trick. There are some excellent effects that have spawned from this bullshit trick that everyone knows, but the main reason why they are excellent is because they are self-referential as to how shit the effect is, but they also build on the preconceived notions surrounding the 21 card trick, or the ‘bank robbery’ and do something very unexpected.
CHAPTER 6 – ASSEMBLAGE
Old Fashioned Aces
This is a combination of the Henry Christ ‘Fabulous Four Ace’ Routine ( in Cliff Green’s ‘Professional Card Magic’, 1968, p.44) and what has come to be known as ‘Macdonalds’ Ace routine’, which is actually a Hofzinser plot. The four aces are laid out with three additional indifferent cards. Each ace vanishes from it’s respective packet and then is reproduced from the deck. My first exposure to this routine was John Bannon’s ‘Beyond Fabulous’, originally published in ‘The Looking Glass’ (Spring 1996) and later in ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’. The routine itself is an excellent example of how subtlety and sleight of hand in the correct combinations make for a very disarming and impossible effect.
While I do like the effect, Jack’s version takes a different path which I feel didn’t really have the same impact or outcome. In the original handling and the Bannon handling, the aces are lost into the deck rather than vanishing and some may see that departure as either a blessing or diluting the point of the original plot. The handling during the effect is worth reading, as you’ll learn Jack’s take on how to handle multiple cards and lay them down after a vanish, but I think the ending where the aces are produced feels short lived (mainly the last two Aces). It is an interesting approach to view as an evolution of possibilities, but I feel that only Jack could perform this and do it the justice it deserves.
Bare Naked Ladies
This is something I loved, and was shown to me the week I’d received the book. It’s a bare-bones assembly where the Queens are laid down, only three indifferent cards are introduced and the queens collect in the leader position, and then without mixing all of the cards, they backfire to their original positions. The economy of motion involved is brilliant. Highly recommend looking into this.
When I originally read the start of this effect description, I imagined that this would be doing an Ace assembly but having the spectator take the reins. While it does seem to do that, the ending comes out of nowhere and turns it into something else. After laying out the Aces, having the spectator assist in doing the lay down sequence, the performer places an indifferent card from each pile onto the leader Ace. The leader packet turns out to consist of four Kings, while the indifferent cards left over turn out to consist only of the four Aces. The method is good, but the ending of the effect comes across as slightly confusing. He has the spectator look into the leader packet to reveal the four Kings and then reveals the four Aces on the table. Since the effect is revolving around the Aces, it would seem to make more sense to reveal the Aces still on the table, and the Kings as a kicker ending. If you have thoughts on this, post them up. I’d like to hear different opinions on this idea of sequencing multiple revelations for maximum impact.
The Three Stooges
The previously mentioned ‘McDonald’s Aces’/ Hofzinser’s ‘Power of Faith’ has become a classic effect. If I see one more person performing ‘A Dream of Aces’ to the Forrest Gump theme song, I will shoot myself. Jack takes the effect and has three different spectators holding a packet with an ace in it, and each spectator is unknowingly made to vanish the Ace. I’ve always been interested in this type of magic or method, where a spectator performs a secret action without knowing it. One of my dreams is to have a spectator do a Christ-alignment or an Anti-Faro without knowing. While the method is fairly straightforward, Jack justifies it by saying that if it’s too long, it becomes boring and tedious, while if it’s too short, then it may be too transparent.
CHAPTER 7 – THE OLD ITCH AGAIN
If you hate the 21 card trick, these next few effects will either rekindle your hate for them, or possibly make you like them. They’re good because they fuck with the preconceived ideas surrounding this effect and take different routes to come to the revelation. This approach uses a principle by Steve Draun and David Solomon to achieve the outcome. Jack has given both his original solution and Tomas Blomberg’s solution in the Comments section at the end. Out of the two, I prefer Tomas’ handling as there is no backwards calculation, so you only need to consider what is happening from that point onwards. If you read that and it sounded like gibberish, it’s because I am fucking with you and I am not going to teach you the effect. Buy the book.
Invisible 21 (with David Solomon)
This handling is good because you can follow up the last effect and perform this. The selection vanishes, leaving only 20 cards and then it appears reversed in the centre of the packet. This uses a different principle to achieve the outcome, which is worth noting.
The handling Jack presents here has a lot of throw offs built into it. The effect is similar in the selection procedure, and the revelation ends with the card being reversed in one of the three piles. This is made mainly for magicians, but I don’t feel it’s necessary to learn. It’s worth looking into for some techniques and ideas, but that’s about it.
CHAPTER 8 – YOU PLUS ONE
The Thomas Crown Affair
Someone first recounted this effect to me and then after watching the performance of it, I still had no idea. The effect is brilliant but requires a lot of work and a lot of balls. I won’t give the method away, but the effect is amazing. Jack sent a DVD to the TSD convention where he asked people in the audience to come up, nominate a ‘chairperson’ which turned out to be the late J.C. Wagner, and each person was to take out a card from their own decks and give them to J.C. who would shuffle them and then redistribute them back to the random people except for one person. This left one person without a card and one card without a person. This person was asked to name the card they removed, such as the Nine of Diamonds. The last card was turned over and shown to be the Nine of Diamonds. The ideas used here are worth reading, if only just for a laugh. If you have the balls to pull something like this off, you deserve a medal.
An interesting approach to divining three selections made from seemingly fair conditions. I do like the logic behind the effect and the method, but some may argue that being left to chance makes it a bad effect. To those people, I say ‘fuck off’. Most of magic is either getting an outcome, or working towards another outcome. Magician’s who actually perform constantly learn that nothing is a given and that you may need to improvise at any point in your routine to get an outcome. Some effects rely on this to create a feeling that the effect would have been the same regardless of the choice made. This is worth taking a lesson from based solely on that. Learning to stay on your toes and utilise your wording correctly to create some impossible outcomes.
The last parts of the book are an essay by Jack on creating magic and magic in general, as well as some final words from Andi Gladwin. I won’t do them justice by paraphrasing them or condensing them into a few words. All I will say is that I wholeheartedly agree with Jack’s approach to magic; there’s too much bullshit going on. Too many people are trying to make magic edgy, worrying about selling the next product as the ‘real work’ and the next big thing. There isn’t as much secrecy and thought going into magic anymore, and being that we are at a time where we can share information, learn anything and talk with anyone, you would expect there to be more diversity and appreciation for magic. While there is more appreciation than there was 30-40 years ago, there is also way more mass-produced bullshit and banal, shit-house magicians and ill-informed arm-chair enthusiasts than ever before. While I don’t expect this imbalance to swing the other way overnight, I hope that something happens eventually.
For Jack’s book, would I recommend it?
Fuck yeah. The book is beautifully produced, has excellent referencing, but above all, has some worthwhile material and ideas throughout.As I said at the start, I enjoyed reading this book for the material Jack has created, but I am saddened that the book only came to exist because of Jack’s passing. His legacy has been left with us, and we need to take from him and his work what we can and build on it.
Also, in the middle there is a picture of Jack and Tyler Wilson with some of the best sideburns I’ve ever seen.
I can only speak for myself, but for all the contributions Jack has given to others and to magic, all I can say is…