Larry Horayne

He knows all your secrets. He invented them.

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Roadkill on the Royal Road; A guest review by John Scam-Me

It’s official;
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.

Ad Copy:
“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.”

It continues:

“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.

Later fuckers,
John

 

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Modus Vivendi;

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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.

Currently, their website is offline for some prettying up/maintenance, but you can order Operandi and subscribe to the newsletter to be notified of new issues by emailing:

info@themodus.co.uk

Fuckin’ hop to it, bitchboys,
xoxo,
LH

“No idea how deep the rabbit hole would go…”; Mysteriouser and Mysteriouser by Raj Madhok

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.

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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.

Coincealed
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.

Fossa Nature
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’sty 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.

mysteriouser.jpeg
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!

xoxo,
LH

 

In memory of Eugene Burger

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.unnamed-1

I can’t say much more that hasn’t already been said by his close friends, confidantes and magic family.

Happy birthday Eugene,

xoxo,
LH

GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!

Straight from Pit Hartling’s Facebook feed comes this glorious news:

“It‘s out!!

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.

DB3

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…

xoxo,
LH

For anyone who missed it…

Earlier this week, Tricky Dicky Kaufman threw out a shitheel of a comment on a trailer for a new movie worked on by the great and powerful Larry Fong, one of the nicest and sweetest guys in existence.

Kaufman did retract his comment, but Dick should know better than to throw stones in glass houses

Maybe get back to work on the Jennings books, you fucker. The deadline is so far gone, it’s almost old enough to buy its own booze.

xoxo,

LH

RIP Harry Anderson

Another one of the good guys taken too soon…

xoxo,
LH

A “how-to” on being part of The Magic Cafe

Have you had your dose of Elixir yet?

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The illusive Elixir magazine is now up for another run, in case you fuckers missed out on the last one.

In case you’ve been hiding under your own ass this whole time:

Elixir is an independent close up magic periodical concocted and published by the ever-patient Mike Helmer out of the Northern Mexican state of Canada. Here are the contributors to whet your fuckin’ whole ass with excitement

Bill Goodwin
Ryan Plunkett
Jon Racherbaumber
Hideo Kato
Peter Pellikaan
Steve Beam (Hi Steve!)
Miika Pelkonen
Allan Hagen
Mathieu Bich
Michael Kras
Chris Mayhew (One of the many Mayhew brethren)
Gary Plants
Stephen Hobbs (told you I wouldn’t shit on you Hobbs xoxo)

Get in quick at Elixir’s website before Mike runs out again

Review coming soon

xoxo
LH

Aut iveniam viam aut faciam; Card at Any Phone Number ² from Paul Vigil

Hope y’all had a great Christmas/New Years/Whatever the fuck this world is going through right now is called.

Just before Christmas, I woke up in a drunken stupor, after butt-chugging Mojitos through a funnel, to find a message from Paul Vigil about something he’s putting out; a piece of magic he’s been using in his regular set, but felt it was time to release it to be enjoyed by the magic community. This is where shit kicked into fifth gear.

PV2

If you’ve ever had the blessing of seeing Paul perform, you’ll know that he doesn’t fuck around with mediocre bullshit “filler” magic. I can’t succinctly put into words what it’s like watching Paul do his thing. It’s other worldly; his gaze, voice and demeanor alone immerse you into this sense that what you’re seeing, hearing and feeling is truly happening. This is what experiencing real magic would (Could, Should) be like.

Paul has also released a few books recently, outlining his working acts in his amazing books ‘Classic Fantastic’ (OOP, find it if you can) and ‘Doors of Deception‘ (Limited but in print, get it from Paul!). When the price tag was announced for these two books ($200+ a pop), a lot of people stuck their nose up a the idea.

Why the fuck would you pay $200 for his book when there’s other magician’s books out there for $30-60 each?

The reason is because you’re not paying for the usual mish-mash of ideas, effects and methods, forcing you to find the good material among the more academic “filler” included, like with most magic books, where they invite you to “use your favorite method” or make up some other bullshit to omit pertinent information like their ideas are fucking state secrets.

You’re getting the whole nine yards; methods, finesses, presentation and all. Paul holds nothing back. He’s talking you through what he has had to painstakingly create, perform, refine, revisit and perfect in front of a paying audience night after night to get it to a final product. You’re getting a fully fleshed out act that KILLED at the Castle. These aren’t pipe dreams. Also, as a good friend and confidante with some of the greats of our generation, like Tom Mullica, Michael Weber, Teller and Johnny Thompson, what he has to say, how he thinks and what he does is worth every cent.

PV

Aside from his latest larger book releases, Paul also releases some of the crazy shit he performs in his working set as one-off releases, like ‘Diplopia‘ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil‘ which would flit around the underground with an air of mystery that make you need to know what the fuck was happening.

The new piece he’s released from his working set is another great piece of strange; Any Card at Any Phone Number ², Paul’s take on the ACAAN using two randomly chosen phone numbers. Now that may seem weird to use phone numbers since there’s more numbers than a deck has cards.. so let’s see what he has to offer.

A card is selected from a tabled spread by a spectator and isolated. A phone book is introduced and a phone number chosen at random by the decisions and choices of one or many spectators. The selected phone number is called on loud speaker, the stranger on the other end is asked to name any card. The stranger on the phone precisely names the selected card that has been isolated since the start of the effect.

The selected card is then lost back into the shuffled pack and another spectator at random is asked to call someone they know will pick up, like a family member, friend or even a work colleague, to name a number between 1 and 52. The selected card is found at the named number.

Roll credits….

My first time reading through this method, it was a weird moment of clarity. The curtain had been pulled away from the Wizard. The method is not complicated in any way, extremely direct and simple to follow. It looks and feels like real magic to an audience because it feels like nothing overt is happening, which is pretty much the reality of the situation. It just looks and feels that direct.

So what’s deal? Well, for the method, there are two extra things you will need to perform the effect as described; a fairly standard and easily found gimmicked deck and an app, which unfortunately is only available for Iphone users. The nature of how and when the app is used will make sense as to why it’s not viable for Android users. How the effect and performance is structured allows the performer to utilise both in full view of the audience, making it not feel like it’s just some “app” trick or a trick deck. It plays off the strengths of each of the items without taking any heat on their drawbacks. It’s borderline perfect.

For the write up and what you get, you receive a 9 page PDF from Paul outlining the method, presentation and history of the effect and where Paul has been to come to the final product. Paul goes over the script of his performance, even with lines and phrases I can imagine coming out of his mouth, smirking slightly while he unblinkingly locks onto his spectator’s eyes. It’s a great balance of concise content with enough descriptive language to allow you to not just take away the bare-bones and have to run with it. Paul talks you through what a performance is like, even putting in some by-play which may seem irrelevant to the effect/method, but shows how to engage the audience throughout.

Is it worth it?

Of course. Every time I’ve had the pleasure of sitting with Paul, or seeing him perform, I come away feeling better about magic; not my magic, but magic in general. His approach and philosophy in magic is an eye opener because of two reasons; he either makes you re-affirm your existing understanding of what makes good magic, sometimes throwing curveballs OR he completely disproves bullshit paradigms and misconceptions that people still get told and hold onto while learning and performing. This effect, along with all his other releases and ideas, is something that plays extremely strong for any audience and looks and feels like real magic

Currently, you can only get the PDF for this effect directly from Paul (email him here) for $25 USD. Paypal him the cash with the comment/subject line of “Card at Any Phone Number” to get it.

Now, back to figuring out how to tan the underside of my balls,

xoxo,
LH

P.S. If anyone happens to find an Android equivalent app, please reach out to Paul and let him know.