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.