Bullfrog Magazine: Issue 1 (P.S. I’m back)

by Wouldn't you like to know?

Howdy motherfuckers,

I’m baaack. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I hope you assholes really missed me. Unfortunately, I sustained a life-threatening injury and was forced into bed-rest and doing sweet fuck-all on doctor’s orders. After an injury like mine, I seriously had to re-evaluate my life’s purpose. I bet you’re all curious as to what kind of injury I’m talking about…

I snapped my banjo string.  It made the regular jerking off and plugging of my own work hard to do, as I’m usually semi to fully erect when I shove my opinion in everyone’s faces.

In my absence, I had to keep myself away from anything to do with magic, or face broken stitches and piss-spraying blood on everything around me. To ease myself back into it, I thought we’d start with something that I didn’t have exceptionally high expectations for; Bullfrog Magazine issue # 1. Now, if you missed the review of their debut issue #0, I recommend going back to read it to understand where I’m coming from.

In issue #0, there were a lot of issues with the layout and the amount of wasted space by unnecessary designs and cartoons. In this latest issue, they have taken this feedback on board and fleshed out each of the items to being more thoroughly written up. As a comparison, issue #0 had 5 listed items across 19 pages with fuck all written for each item while issue #1 has 7 items (2 items are related, but they are listed as separate) over the 19 pages with far better write ups. They also condensed more material onto the ‘Contents’ listing, including the QR codes, like I said they should. I knew I was right. I’m always right. I’m fucking awesome.

Onto the content…

When I began to read this, my junk receded into my body at a speed not known to Western civilization. The spectator is asked cut off a portion of the deck, shuffle their packet and note the face card. The deck is then reassembled and shuffled and the performer reveals the thought of card. This write up consists of 5 methods for the above effect, 4 write ups printed and the 5th handling available using the QR code.  The first method is very simplistic and made me a bit limp, due to how straightforward and basic it was. The rest of the handlings each build slightly on the last, using different principles in conjunction with the effect structure. While I like the idea of presenting multiple ways to achieve the same effect using different means, some of the methods are noted as being more ‘secure’, but also sound better; a magician naming a card instead of looking through the deck then naming the card. If the later variations are more ‘secure’, and seemingly more impossible, why include the original simplistic method in the first place? Just to pad out the magazine for half a page?The 5th variation, available via QR code, is more of a finesse on the first handling than a new handling altogether. Does it improve the effect?  A little, but it’s nothing groundbreaking and the effect itself isn’t amazing to begin with. So far, not really enjoying myself. Also, there’s a diagram of an Aspirin advertisement on the first page. No fucking clue what relevance this has to the effect or method.

This was kind of (exactly) like the advice about palming from issue # 0, but now about the Tilt. They do make a good point that it’s either done horribly fucking wrong or great, but to waste a page on a tip such as this? I’m not following their logic. They’re either expecting their readers to be absolutely fucking moronic and know nothing of card sleights OR be over-confident pompous pricks smugly thinking they’re being better than the shitty magicians but still don’t use Tilt. There’s no real ‘audience’ for this and it’s not helping anyone or making the write up worthwhile.

This is something which looks pretty, but is useless. There’s no text associating this item, but the QR code at the start and diagrams are more than enough to explain the mechanics of this fairly simply revelation. The only issue with the revelation is that it does not reveal a known card. Flourishers  may appreciate the idea as another stepping stone for flourishing, but as a magician, this will not be something you’ll add to your revelations. It does looks smooth and elegant, but it has no place in card magic.

As previously stated, I like the idea of giving multiple methods to achieve an effect (if the effect is worthwhile). The lesson associated to this kind of write up is that different ways of handling the same effect can significantly affect the impact on your audiences. The effect Olivier is aiming for sounds pretty good; random four of a kind chosen by a spectator is named (or found) by the magician after the deck has been shuffled. The issue being that the contingencies of each method call for different parts of the effect to be re-worded to have different criteria, such as is the deck shuffled by the magician or the spectator, is it impromptu or slightly prepared. My favorite is the first method, although the third method does hold a special place in my sexual thoughts. While not amazing, this is significantly better than the shit that’s been in Bullfrog so far.

…. You guys were getting better, and then you had to go and fuck it up with this. This issue comes with two sheets of origami paper, and this item shows how to do an origami fold of a small skeletal hand, created by Jeremy Shaefer. I’ve got no issue with origami and have a respect for anyone passionate about their craft, but the fact that this particular fold is available for free on youtube makes its inclusion a waste of 3 pages which could have been used to outline ideas with the hand.

My biggest issue with this is the use of the ‘gag’ given is lifted directly from Bob Farmer’s ‘The Little Hand’ without any credit or mention. A small skeletal hand appears from between yours and touches the spectator’s hand. I don’t understand where this would fit in with any type of routine.

VELUX – Father Alex
I like the idea and effort behind this effect, but I don’t like the method or the write up. The effect is the performer shows a hand of random cards, waves it and it changes into the four Aces (or another good poker hand). Most people know of this effect is from seeing R Paul Wilson’s ‘Fan-2-C’ or ‘Zapped’ from the movie ‘Shade’. It’s actually Bob Koch’s ‘Visual Poker Hand Change’ from Marlo’s ‘ Ed Marlo On The Acrobatic Cards’ (1968, p.80). As with the last item, there’s no attempt to give any depth of history or crediting aside from one of his friends working on an effect utilising one of Gaetan Bloom’s gimmicks. The next biggest thing is that the effect is written up for a left handed magician, i.e. his right hand would hold the deck in mechanics grip. The method itself works well for a left handed magician, but in the hands of the more common right handed magician, the mechanics of the method end up not working out as well as planned; the orientation of the cards before the change is totally fucked to get into and very unnatural. Something like ‘Cheng’s Change’ from the True Astonishments DVD set (I fucking hate this set) is something that is more practical for the right handed performer, but it doesn’t make it better just because it suits more people. Overall, it’s an interesting ungaffed approach to the effect, but wholly impractical.

So, what’s the verdict?

I feel really fucking let down. I’m all for supporting good magic regardless of the medium. It could be written in shit, smeared across the side of a pickup truck full of used feminine hygiene products, but if the content is decent enough, such as in previous magazines like Precursor or Trapdoor, the presentation and medium don’t matter. The material has to be strong to make it worth looking out for and learning. So far, the magazine’s design and layout has improved, the amount of content has improved, but the quality of the content sucks compared to their other products and projects.

Have they made an effort? Yeah, the effort is there, there have been improvements overall, but I’m still not feeling like the Bullfrog is the next big thing. As the saying goes, you can polish a turd as much as you want, but it doesn’t make it less shitty.

Issue # 2, a non-card issue, comes out soon. Maybe they’ll redeem themselves, but in the mean time… don’t bother.