8 Effects and a Sleight + Tria; Good shit.
by Wouldn't you like to know?
A while back, some fucking guy (who will be referred to lovingly from this point on as ‘Mr. Babycakes’) sent me a link, with material from a guy named Mike Kociolek. The link was sent with a message that just said ‘Some good shit’. Upon reading the two small manuscripts, I found some decent stuff in there. As with everything, it wasn’t all amazing, but there was a lot of thought put into the effects from both a method standpoint and from an effect standpoint.
… I’m talking like a fucking asskisser, aren’t I? Shit…. I’ll stop now..
There is some good stuff in these two booklets. While some of the shit I won’t do verbatim, they made me reconsider certain things and there were some new approaches to standard plots that gave me a chubby. I peed a little too.
Let’s start with the first manuscript,
‘8 Effects and a Sleight’
You Know Better
A handling of Fulves’ ‘Gemini Twins’ mixed with Elmsley’s ‘Face Your Brothers’, both having the same plot but being at opposite ends of the scale of hands-on to hands-off approaches. Each has it’s pros and cons, but if you look at them both overall, there’s only a shifting of the necessary handling to different points to achieve the effect. In the Elmsley one, you have three cards selected, lost, and the mates are found. In the Fulves handling, you have three cards given as ‘predictions’, which are then used to find the mates, which is a much more common practice. Mike’s approach uses bits and pieces from both effects and makes use of some subtleties to cancel out any suspicions while also setting yourself up for the next phase. Shit’s smart. The first run through had that fucking moment where you realise the next logical step method-wise is right fucking there. Justin knows what I’m talking about…
My current favourite handling for this effect is John Bannon’s ‘Trait Secrets’, p.182 from his book ‘Dear Mr Fantasy‘, which is itself based on Jack Carpenter’s ‘A Potent Presage’, p. 26 from his manuscript ‘The Expert’s Portfolio‘, which in turn is inspired by Allan Ackerman’s ‘My Favourite Gemini’, p.12 from his book ‘Las Vegas Kardma‘. Ain’t life grand? Bannon and Carpenter’s handlings also have a bit extra to the effect. Some people may say it’s unnecessary, but some people can also go fuck themselves. I think they’re worth reading. If you haven’t got any of Ackerman or Carpenter’s work, what the fuck have you been doing? Get to it.
The effect is straightforward; the Aces are left face up, cut into the middle of the deck and through a round of dealing are dealt to the spectator’s requested hand. There is some really excellent thinking going on here. The placements and ideas used are fucking smart and allow some very fair displays prior to dealing. For the final ace, Mike gives a few different ways to end it, depending on your skill set. If you haven’t got the cojones to learn a real centre deal but like gambling demonstrations and can do some decent false deals, then you will enjoy this.
My first exposure to pseudo-center dealing was through Laurie Ireland’s ‘Lessons in Dishonesty‘ manuscript. This is a very easily accessible and cheap resource (The grip for bottom deal explained is similar to one published in Gazzo/Britland’s ‘Phantoms of the Card Table‘ book, which is also another brilliant resource for magic history and some sleights). For other really interesting takes on this plot, I recommend looking into Michael Weber’s ‘A Spectator Named Kennedy’, p.7 in Penumbra issue 11, (Nov. 2009), Jack Carpenter’s ‘Center Deal Demo’, p.105 in ‘Modus Operandi‘ (1992) and Denis Behr’s multiple handlings in volumes 1 and 2 of his ‘Handcrafted Magic‘ books. Hi Denis! I FUCKING LOVE YOUR ARCHIVE, IT’S AMAZING. WE SHOULD BE BROS.
This is a weird one. The basis for this effect is Pit Hartling’s ‘Triple Countdown’ from his excellent book ‘Card Fictions‘. My theory is that smart (amazing) assholes go bald when their brains go bullshit crazy (in a good way) and overheat, which causes hairlines to recede to save the brain. By this logic, Max Maven’s widows peak will soon be halfway down his ass crack if he keeps it up, and Pit should be totally hairless by mid next year (and I mean TOTALLY hairless). I won’t explain the effect.. because I fucking don’t feel like it. Plus, it would give up the devious shit you will learn if you come across this in future. It’s one of those effects where it’s half physical method, half subtlety and presentation. I know this sounds like bullshit psychobabble, but how you preface the effect to the audience allows for their own internal comprehension of the effect instead of outward acknowledgement. If you know this effect, you will understand exactly what I’m fucking talking about. It’s a Bro. John Hamman style approach to magical events, with the audience’s perception making up a good chunk of fuck-balls amazing for you.
Having been familiar with Pit’s handling, I read through and tried out the effect Mike explains and to be honest I feel like he has taken something and made it worse. Pit’s handling can be done off the cuff with any deck, while Mike’s does ask for some preparations. My biggest qualm with Mike’s version is that he asks for this something extra, yet the effect, method and subtleties have been cut down or not noted. Mike’s version only allows you to do this for two spectators rather than three, and he has not added anything groundbreaking to the method aside from the little extra bit of freedom for the end of the effect. Pit’s routine, while there is less freedom and more work, feels far more thought out and has some key points which would have improved Mike’s version. Also, he gives a few different handlings during the course of the explanation to get into the optimal situation, which pissed me off a bit. I would explain his favourite/most used handling and then put any variations at the end of the effect in a notes/comments section so you can keep track of what the fuck is going on.
I like this. Collectors is one of those plots that I find interesting, but I fucking hate 99% of methods for it. Mike references Elmsley’s ‘One at a time Collectors’ from vol.1 of the Collected Works of Alex Elmsley. My first exposure to the Elmsley routine was the November 1974 issue of Pabular with the same method. The routine’s exact handling can be changed, but the sequence and displacements are brilliant. I recommend looking into this routine.
Mike’s routine uses a similar one-at-a-time collectors plot rather than the more standard all at once production of the selections. There is some devious shit going on too which makes me slightly moist in the crotch. I like the ideas he’s combined for this routine, however I feel like the overall method and ending could be tweaked slightly to make it more devious, have the same appearance but make it able to be scrutinised more. Without giving away the method, all I’m going to say is ‘Add in an extra random card’. If you know this routine, by adding this in and changing little of the method, you will have a much better end display while maintaining the awesome routine ideas.
I did have a slight issue with this routine though, and that was just surrounding how to handle the situation the effect puts you in, similar to the previous effect. Pit goes into details to cover any discrepancies and pro-actively sort things out while Mike gives only a little advice/direction, which means if you’re not used to performing with these kinds of subtleties, you will REALLY need to think before using them to ensure you aren’t going to fuck it up by being an idiot and overstating/understating something. While some good ideas happen off the cuff, these are some things that you’ll need to understand properly before you try them out or you will look like the dumber than Paul Gordon trying to claim originality. Which he still does, for some fucking reason.
Three spectators each peek at a card and the deck is shuffled. The performer tries to ‘read’ their poker faces and shows each of them a small portion of the deck to see if their selection is there. Each spectator is given the portion of the deck shown to them. At this point, all three spectator’s will say they didn’t see their selections in the cards they were shown. The magician has royally fucked up, but is able to fix it with each of the selections now being found reversed in the packets they were given just moments before.
The effect is simple, i.e. the magician fucks up and makes good, and it has a lot of capacity for good interactions with the audience. The only bad things I have to say is that the method while it’s pretty good, can be tweaked slightly. For example, the first and second selections, you can use the first part of Aronson’s ‘Head over Heels’ move. This allows for a cleaner show of these packets, as well as being identical in appearance to Mike’s published method.
Also, I feel that the idea of ‘reading’ people as a plot point can be tweaked, such as asking people to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if they saw their card, and they can either lie or tell the truth. This adds another mini-effect before the conclusion because you know whether they’re bullshitting you or telling the truth. This may be just me, but it’s my opinion WHICH IS FUCKING FACT SO DON’T TELL ME I’M WRONG!!@@@!:!@:@
The basis for the plot of this effect is messy, but here I go….
The most commonly known handling is Al Leech’s ‘The Spectator does a Trick’ in his booklet ‘Cardmanship’ published in 1959. The earliest reference I’ve been given (by the Demi-god Tyler Wilson) is in a book titled ‘Ein Speil Karten’ (translated, ‘A Deck of Cards’) back in 1853, in an effect titled Predestination. Since then, it’s been more commonly known as Daryl’s ‘Untouched’, and has spawned some excellent variations using a similar plot but different methods, such as John Guastaferro’s ‘Twist of Fate’ in TFD 2012 lecture notes, Simon Aronsons’ ‘Decipher’ in ‘Try the Impossible‘, Rich Avile’s ‘Pocket Protectors’ in ‘Above the Fold‘ and Michael Closes’ ‘Guatemalan Miracle‘.
The reason I mention Mike Closes’ effect is because this strikes me as being something that would be more accessible to most people compared to Mike Kociolek’s handling. In the original effect, two cards are selected by a spectator and the combination of the value of one card (Eight), and the suit of the other card (Hearts) make up the identity which’creates’ the prediction/ selection (Eight of Hearts). In Mike K’s handling, the two cards are put into the deck face up, shuffled and they end up sandwiching the card they make up.
I will say that the requirements for the method may make a lot of people not give a fuck, but the possibilities with the method are better; the selection process of the two cards used during the effect is very open and fair. Regardless of the choices they make, the effect will be the same each time. Read this, give it a run through and see if it’s your kind of thing. I like the idea, but didn’t like the requirements. Also, read into Simon Aronson’s version for some very interesting presentational ideas for this which you could apply to this style of effect.
In Oil, Under Water
An Oil and Water effect that’s actually really good. Look up the one in Goodwin’s ‘Up In Smoke’ notes for Larry Jennings that I mentioned in the ‘Cardmagic’ review. Shit’s insane. For Mike’s handling, it has a single phase separation and a single mixing phase. It’s not too long and not too short. The cards are mixed in a very Tamariz influenced display, and then are shown to have separated. Oil and Water is one of those plots where you’re either doing a miracle or shitting yourself through the bed; there’s no middle ground. It’s either amazing or boring, and it’s usually the magician’s fault, not the effect’s fault. If you’re into Oil and Water, have a look at this one.
If you’re familiar with Stewart James’ ‘Miraskill’ effect, you’ll know how this turns out. Mike takes the ‘Miraskill’ principle and adds in some other ideas to make the effect have a more hands off approach during the effect. I personally feel that the changes added, while interesting, are not groundbreaking. If you currently do a version of the ‘Miraskill’ plot, see if any of this sparks any interest. For me, I’ll just stick with John Bannon’s awesome handling.
MK Simple Shift Variation
I like efficient moves. Mike’s variation of a fairly simple move is too involved and requires a lot of fiddling and thinking to achieve the move. While it is not a technically difficult move, it is an awkward move to perform without looking at your hands, and even then, the needed actions to achieve the desired position aren’t the most fluid or appealing. I am all for using subtlety over direct actions where the situation calls for it and vice versa, but in this case, the sequence of needed actions is drawn out and awkward. While it is an efficient means of doing a multiple shift, it is not the best one. I could suggest a handling that would use similar ideas but achieve it in a less awkward way, but I have been requested by it’s creator to not share it.
And now, for a brief intermission and a word from our sponsors…
Welcome back. I hope you peed.
Now, let’s take a look at the second set of notes,
A re-working of the ‘Princess Card Trick’, taking on similarities to Larry Jennings’ and Gordon Bean’s ‘Limited Edition/New Limited Edition’, and David Regal’s ‘Unlimited Edition’. Everyone knows the slutty card trick that is the ‘Princess Card Trick’. It’s been done in books, on TV, in chain emails and even some websites. According to ‘Matahma’ magazine, Henry Hardin receives the earliest credit, publishing an ad in December of 1903, and then popularised by Nate Leipzig. If you know of an earlier credit, please let me know.
If you have no idea what the ‘Princess Card trick’ is, get the fuck out of here. Yes. You. Go on. We’re all waiting….. Ok, good, I fucking hate people like that. Mike’s handling has the mentally selected card have a blank face, as in Regal’s handling, but the issue that Mr. Babycakes pointed out was that the use of Marlo’s Retention change drew too much attention, and so could be substituted, and still be just as deceptive, such as using the Jinx switch. The overall effect would stay the same, but the method would not have any strange moments.
A really nice packet effect, closely related to Max Maven’s ‘B’wave’ and Karl Fulves’ ‘Red Blues’ effect (‘The Chronicles’, no. 13). Four cards are in the card box. Spectator selects one of the Aces, which is found to be the only face up card in the box. The other three cards are found to be the same selected Ace. All four cards then turn into another card, such as the Joker. There’s some really nice ideas in here which can be taken and applied elsewhere. Mr Babycakes sent me this video of the switch used in the effect, which in theory can be cut down to only two cards and used in other effects. The switch is credited to a German magician named Gerd Winkler, who dubbed it the ‘Winkler Switch’. I like this routine because of logical conclusion when the cards are replaced back in the box. The effect feels like it comes full circle, however, Mr Babycakes disagreed and felt that the purity of the effect was tampered with because the amazing result of the prediction is then overshadowed by the other aces changing to the selected Ace and then to four entirely different cards.
An effect using Tarot cards. The best (ever) Tarot card effect has been done by my good friend, R. Jacherbaumer and involves the greatest pun of all time. Nothing will ever beat this. Late night sessions have proved this, and even a FISM winning magician loved it.
For Mike’s routine, the effect borrows the key principle from David Regals’ ‘Journey to Love’ in ‘Constant Fooling vol. 2’, and adds in a process that allows you to shade the underlying principle while being able to have the same outcome. I have to say that it seems a bit involved, but after reading through the method a few times, it’s very simple and straightforward. The amount of mental work is minuscule, and as long as you’re familiar with the Tarot deck and comfortable with the procedure, it is doable. That being said, it uses fucking Tarot cards so 99% of you may disregard this because of the association of the Occult or Bizarre. I fucking hate Bizarre magic, but it is possible for serious performers to use Tarot cards and other themed items properly, and tastefully (or even comedically). Think about it. Also, Mr. Babycakes felt that the start of this effect reminded him of a Paul Vigil item. Remember that name. More to come about Paul soon.
So, what’s the verdict on these two small sets of notes?
‘8 Effects and A Sleight’ is available as either a PDF or as a hardcopy. It’s $20 for the PDF and $28 for the softcover, and it’s for you to decide if you’d want a physical copy or a digital one. The graphics, production quality and illustrations are excellent, but there were some points where the writeup went off on a tangent or there were chunks of text which could have been re-worded to make more sense of what was going on.
‘Tria’ is a smaller, but equally well produced PDF only set of notes and is available for free here as of December 5th 2012, courtesy of Mike.
But because there are some fucking awesome ideas and effects in these, they’re good shit. Go get them.
Now, fuck off and let me sleep.
P.S. I, in no way, shape or form, endorse lybrary.com. I fucking hate them for how they have treated some people, and refuse to give them a recommendation. The historically edited (censored) version of Pabular Magazine, and bullshit handling of properties of other magicians done by the late Martin Breese and supported now by Lybrary.com is fucking horrible. Shame on you fucking people.