So, I thought I’d open up to questions and requests from everyone. Possibly do a Reddit AMA.
So, I thought I’d open up to questions and requests from everyone. Possibly do a Reddit AMA.
Seeing as how much you all loved the review of Benjamin Earl’s F For Fiction, here’s another nail in the coffin
In today’s installment, we’ll be looking at…. PSYCHOLOGICA
Let’s first look at the advertising blurb:
So, I have a very special Christmas release… Psychologica. Limited to only 250 copies (each numbered and signed). This is a miracle territory effect which I have been fooling the living bejesus** out of ‘muggles’*** with for many years. If you want to break out the ‘big guns’ and devastate someone with something so impossible that they soil themselves or start doing chimp flips… then this is it.
Bending reality through principles of deception and magic
The performer legitimately mixes a deck of cards face-up and face-down (so that they are in a complete mess), the spectator now takes the deck, and the performer never touches the deck again. The spectator also shuffles the cards face-up into face-down and even looks down to see the chaotic mess of cards spread between their hands! They think of a playing card, and still without the performer touching the deck, every card goes the same way except for the card they were thinking of!!! While the deck is in their hands! WTF?! Yes.
This is real magic… with an ordinary deck!
‘Psychologica’ doesn’t feel like a standard ‘Triumph’ routine; it feels like a deeply powerful moment of mind-control, fused with visual and mental magic. It’s the most powerful and perfect ‘Triumph’ effect imaginable; I wanted the spectator to handle the cards themselves, shuffle the deck, look through the cards (genuinely seeing that they are hopelessly mixed) and without the performer touching the deck, the cards all go the same way except for a card they were just thinking of! This sounds completely impossible, but this is exactly what ‘Psychologica’ achieves.
Forget every other version of ‘Triumph’ you’ve ever seen; ‘Psychologica’ is a completely impossible deception game, a devious effect, which looks and feels like real magic while pushing ‘Triumph’ into brand new deceptive territory.
No table, no difficult techniques, no gaffed cards or gimmicks and no bad angles. It can be done with a borrowed, shuffled deck if you want. This routine isn’t a pipe-dream; it has been developed and refined over many years of performance in the real world. I have used this routine at professional engagements for many years, but more interestingly… it is one of my favourite ‘go-to’ effects in a private, informal environment when I want to do something sensational.
Even though I have kept ‘Psychologica’ a closely guarded secret for many years, a very famous magician (who uses it constantly), virtually begged me to keep it a secret and not release it! But like I said to him, “If you want to keep something secret… then put in print!”
Now that the hype is out of the way, let’s take a look at how the effect is printed in the booklet:
A spectator thinks of a card and the deck is cleanly mixed face up and face down. They see the deck is a complete mess and they take the deck in their hands and mix it further. Without the performer touching the deck, the cards all straighten out with the exception of a playing-card of which they are thinking.
Notice the subtle difference in the two?
HYPE: The spectator also shuffles the cards face-up into face-down and even looks down to see the chaotic mess of cards spread between their hands!
BOOKLET: They see the deck is a complete mess and they take the deck in their hands and mix it further.
The word SHUFFLES turns to MIXES. This might not make sense now, but keep reading…
HYPE: …. They think of a playing card, and still without the performer touching the deck, every card goes the same way except for the card they were thinking of!!! While the deck is in their hands! WTF?! Yes.
BOOKLET: A spectator thinks of a card and the deck is cleanly mixed face up and face down
Hold on a second… The timing of the spectator thinking of the playing card is different now….
Okay, I was going to gradually build this review up a bit more, but … fuck it.
Here is what happens in steps:
It makes sense now why Ben changed the terminology of the spectator shuffling to the spectator mixing. A cut is not a shuffle, but a cut is, in the vaguest sense of the word, a mix.
This is essentially a triumph where the spectator does the final cut to center the selection. In between the triumph and the cut, there’s a bunch of convincers and subtleties; the overhand shuffle convincer is good (with some touches from Lennart Green). The Hallucination Shuffle…Ben must have been high off his ass when “coming up” with this. What makes this the Hallucination Shuffle? Apparently it’s where the spectator looks and how firmly you tell them about the mixed condition of the deck.
So if I take this concept further, I could do a standard overhand shuffle, make the spectator put his head in front of my bare asshole and call it the Rusty Trombone Shuffle.
Anyways, back to the “Hallucination Shuffle”. It’s ballsy and if you think you can convince someone that a shuffle where bunch of face up cards falling are “face up AND face down cards”…. Good luck to you. I’m not saying you won’t get away with it, but I’d rather use a better method, like the Tenkai Optical Revolve or the Jennings/Goodwin Display. The Hallucination Shuffle, not so much.
This booklet also starts off with several pages on Psychological principles. It is kind of an interesting read, but the underlying question I found myself asking in the end was… why?
Is it necessary to include all that for a fucking triumph routine? Imagine someone writing a booklet on how to do the muscle pass, and spends the first half of the book talking about muscles, the different muscle groups, how they work together and why muscles are important… and then including an effect as an afterthought
Necessary? Absolutely fucking not!
Ignoring the psychological essay and the price tag, this trick is actually not bad. It can be strong for laymen, as with the original Vernon Triumph. My issue with this is the actual publication; This is not a revolutionary change or approach to warrant it’s own individual manuscript.
The script he provides for this effect is quite standard, except for the ending. You’re essentially giving the spectator several different possible ways you could find their card and then settling on the most impressive way of “doing nothing” and showing the card is now the only one reversed.
This is a pattern with Ben’s recent works. He emphasizes psychology in EVERY single trick, but the psychology and approach is so specific to that one instance. The only difference in PSYCHOLOGICA is that since this is just one “routine”, Ben needs to write more about psychology. I put “routine” in quotes because this is NOT a routine! This is a one-phase effect with convincers, not a “routine”.
In this day and age where single effect DVD’s and manuscripts are becoming far too common place, this is a prime example of duping your customer base because of your reputation. It feels like Ben has blown his magical load too early, with Past Midnight and Gambit being quite well done and thought out material. The manuscript has some interesting points, but is far too reliant on the psychological discussion to pad it out, and the discussion itself is too narrowly focused on this singular effect.
If there’s a need to emphasize the psychology of something EVERY FUCKING TIME, especially when it’s not mentalism, there’s something wrong with what you’re publishing. In this case, it sounds like Ben is trying to justify charging £45 for this. Definitely not worth that much!
PSYCHOLOGICA is one of those tricks that might be included in a collection of effects, but definitely not worthy of a release on its own.
Another underwhelming release.
Bingo, Bango, Bongo
Bish, Bash, Bosh,
And now, to fill the gaping hole in your life left by this blog and for your viewing pleasure, a guest review from our own sweet bearded delight of a man, Jammy Swisse Roll:
In November 2015, Benjamin Earl published a small booklet called F For Fiction for £25. Here is an excerpt from the sales pitch:
“I am releasing F for Fiction, a new publication for the lovers of insanely strong card magic. This publication features three killer routines, ALL of which work in close-up, parlour*** and stage settings. These effects can all be performed with a borrowed, shuffled deck and look like real magic. This is card magic at its strongest and will fool laymen and magicians alike.
F for Fiction
1) Four-Card Impossible
A spectator shuffles a deck of cards and then impossibly locates four-of-a-kind! This devastatingly fooling routine leaves no clue to its methodology; it just looks like a miracle. This gem can be performed with a borrowed, shuffled deck and will fool the heck out of everyone.
2) Finish 52
A freely named card is impossibly located from a shuffled deck. A spectator shuffles a deck of cards and the deck is then placed into the performers pocket. The spectator now names any card they want, despite the fact the deck cannot be seen, and has been genuinely shuffled, the performer is able to reach into his pocket and remove their freely named card! Remember… the spectator genuinely names any card they want and the deck has been shuffled! This effect is impossible to fathom****.
This is my handling of Dai Vernon’s ‘The Travelers’, however, ‘Followers’ is not only cleaner and easier to perform, but it has a climax that nobody sees coming! ‘Followers’ also has a post-modern presentation, which transforms the routine into a stunning, virtuosic, spectacle*****. This is a very special routine, which I suspect will be immediately adopted by many. It has been a secret weapon of mine for many years and part of me is dying inside for finally releasing it.
• The Fade Away Deck Vanish (a visual deck vanish which looks like trick photography).
• Many other technical and psychological tips and techniques.”
On face value, sounds pretty good, but like most ads, this is focusing more on selling the good, the bad and the ugly as the next best thing…
Let’s take a real hard look at F For Fiction:
1) Four-Card Impossible
Effect: A spectator shuffles the deck. You now remove a single card and give it to the spectator to put in a pocket. They now handle the cards for the rest of the effect: to start, the spectator selects a random card for the performer to place in his pocket. Now they cut the deck in two: with one half they reverse a card in the middle and with the other half they cleanly cut it in two. The card they gave you is an Ace, the card in their pocket is an Ace, the card they cut to is an Ace and the card they reversed is an Ace! All four cards have been found and it can be done with a borrowed, shuffled deck at any time.
This effect is Benjamin Earl’s take on Larry Jennings’ Prefiguration effect (well, similar style of effect). He says he wanted to do this effect in such a way that the performer appears to have never touched the deck and there are no complex moves.
Okay let’s stop right here for a second. If you wanted to do some kind of production of a 4 of a kind (or a matching 4 of a kind) where you appear to never touch the deck, what techniques might you use for such a criteria?
… Think about it for a second… I’ll wait….
Did you say Cull? Criss Cross Force? Pastrami Sandwich? Some kind of Gemini Twins style dealing procedure?
If you guessed any of those, either you’re a god damn psychic or you already own these notes, because those are the”psychologically disguised” techniques in play. Now I’ll concede and say that this is a simple and straight forward effect and method, but why would you published this shit??!?! This is the type of shit people come up with after playing around with a deck for a few hours after reading Micah Lasher’s shit-stain of a beginner book (10/10, would recommend).
If you’re insistent on trying this out, just make sure you get your timing, presentation and misdirection down right, or may as well just punch yourself in the dick repeatedly for 5 minutes, because you’d probably get the same outcome; disappointment and a really sore dick.
2) Finish 52
Effect: A spectator shuffles a deck and it is placed into the performer’s pocket (the deck is genuinely shuffled and the performer cannot see a single card). The spectator names any card they like and, without looking, the performer then produces the named card from his pocket!
Did you get a semi-chub too? Did your nostrils flare as you shit yourself in excitement? This sounds FUCKING AMAZING! But wait, after reading the method, the effect is actually slightly different. Let me fix it for you guys:
Effect: A spectator shuffles a deck and it is placed into the performer’s pocket (the deck is genuinely shuffled and the performer cannot see a single card). The spectator names any card they like (e.g. 7 of Spades) and, without looking, the performer then produces a 3 of Spades and 4 of diamonds which combined make up the 7 of Spades….or a 2, 4 and an Ace. This deluded performer has now concluded he has found the named spectator’s card from his pocket.
The first phase is terrible and should have been shot at birth…. and the second phase is what a performer might do as an “out” when you get the spectator’s card wrong in a trick, and then have to secretly locate, cull and produce it from your pocket.
I’m going to repeat that to let it sink in HOW FUCKING TERRIBLE THIS EFFECT IS:
And Ben wants you to think he’s a genius by adding it as an intentional phase/finale..
Effect: Four Aces are signed and placed into the middle of the deck. Instantaneously, the Aces vanish from the deck. Three Aces are found in different pockets about the performer and finally the deck completely visibly disappears, leaving the final Ace at the performer’s fingertips.
I have to admit..This is a decent version of the Travellers plot, but again, it just feels like something you would come up with playing around with a deck for a few hours (or less).
Imagine you have 4 aces on top of the deck…how would you produce them from your pocket? Got your list ready?
Okay good…chances are 4 of the ways on your list are in this trick.
Like trick #1, it’s a decent trick and I could probably see it playing strong (if you execute all your palms and sleights properly without looking like a janky arthritic mole man).
As for the ‘trick photography’ deck vanish…. Meh…
Not that great.
So, what’s the dealio?
One trick was straight up shit soup on a hot Sunday. I wouldn’t perform it if my life depended on it.
The other two tricks were kind of decent, but feel like shit you can come up with while learning your double lifts from your double undercuts.
I was going to also review his recent works “Less is More 3”, “Less is More Bonus” and “Switch” but my thoughts on these works are more or less the same:
“IS HE REALLY PUBLISHING THIS?
Does he genuinely believe he added something significant to the effect? Is he really charging £25 for this shit”. F for Fiction is no exception. Ben tries to disguise his simplicity and underwhelming methods by emphasizing the psychology of the effect with shit like “trust me, this is psychologically fooling for both laymen AND magicians…if I could I’d show you in person and you’d be fooled…I’ve developed this over many years and refined it…blah blah blah….I’m a motherfuckin’ genius, get on my dick”
I don’t see any genius in this piece of work, as Ben himself claims to be. This booklet sucks. Not recommended.
I’m still here, I just feel like you fucks don’t deserve to hear what I have to say.
Here’s what I’m interested in right now:
Blomberg’s Laboratories – I’ve always held a special, sweaty place in my mind for Tomas and his shenanagins. Andi Gladwin teased us earlier this year with this video. Can’t wait to sit for hours on end on my sunken ass cheeks, devouring this book’s insanity.
Scott Robinson’s book by Vanishing Inc – Not much info around about this unfortunately except this sneaky little mention, but I’m a big fan of Scott’s work so I’m looking forward to anything the man has to offer!
Tony Chang’s book of Card Magic (AKA Legend of Chony Tang 2; Electric Boogaloo) – Seriously, the fuck Tyler? Such a cock tease.
HalfHalfMan – An interesting venture from some of the biggest minds of the current generation of magicians, some really interesting looking stuff.. worthwhile? Let’s find out..
David Ben’s ‘The Experts at the Card Table” – David Ben is one of the main reasons I enjoy magic still. He’s also Canadian, so he’s instantly a Saint. This first book in a trilogy, it looks like the kind of stuff dreams are made of. Not bullshit that just fell out of someone’s face overnight.
Also, I hear that Kaufman is almost done with the Tenyo book, which should be .. interesting? Maybe then he can get on with other things, like the Larry Jenning’s books which we’ve been waiting for this whole fucking time
Things that I would rather be beaten to death with:
Designing Miracles audiobook – Who the fuck thought it would be a good idea to turn a magic theory book into an audio book? It’s not like the fuckin’ armchair army of assholes over at the Cafe even read the book, let alone will listen to the whole thing without falling asleep and shitting themselves from boredom. I have respect for the thought and intent in the book, but turning it into an audiobook is just making the spoon-fed assholes among the magicians have even more convenient means to completely ignore and talk shit about.
Everything that Doug Edwards has ever and will ever publish – Enough said
There must be more shit out there. What else is new? TELL ME!
No, seriously. Tell me. I need things to read.
Gettin’ a blumpkin,
I know.. I’m soooo fucking overdue for this. At least I’m not taking your money for bullshit pre-orders and spending it on coke, hookers and corduroy assless chaps. At least give me that courtesy.
I’m a bit of a fan of Canada. Aside from some of the best minds in magic (Dai Vernon, Stewart James,David Ben, Tyler “God among Men” Wilson ❤ etc.), they are some of the nicest people in the world. Seriously. They could apologise at each other for shit they are not even remotely responsible for. Canadian’s must get pissed at each other if people don’t apologise enough. Also, they are the Guardians of maple syrup. ball nectar of the Gods. If they didn’t accept the French so much (excluding Vincent and Boris), I would probably call them perfect.
So when I heard that Tyler and Chris were leaving their merry land of Jizz syrup, moosefucking and daily apology quotas to do a lecture tour of the West Coast, I immediately shat myself into a coma in excitement, called my agent and told him to cancel all my bookings. Unfortunately I don’t have an agent, nor does anyone book an octogenerian, opinionated pain in the ass who faintly smells of piss and mothballs. So basically, I was just really excited and equally bummed that I was going to miss out because of my hectic schedule of doing sweet fuck all.
Luckily, a friend/ass-kissing bitch boy (who wishes to remain nameless and hairless) planned to get a copy of the notes for me. Hearing that it was for moi, Tyler spiced up my copy with a special inlay. Let me just say that seeing one man’s distended anus’ is seeing one too many men’s distended anus’ (anii?). But, I digress.
So a big thank you to Tyler for the thought and hospitality; I really fucking hate you (Jks, ily<3, we should bang).
The notes are 37 pages long in a fine quality A5 layout, and exceptionally well produced and contains 7 items with some weird fucking names (You sneaky fucker, Tyler…Sorry Chris). Let’s get into this shit.
MR. HANDS – Chris Mayhew
A card that has been sitting in a spectator’s hand changes to be her selection. Big fucking deal, this is like card magic 101 shit. But, this is a bit of a mindfuck of a plot. Chris has taken the core weakness of the effect (i.e. expecting that the card in the hand will turn into the selection) out by tweaking the context of where and what the attention is on. By doing so, the spectator doesn’t jump the gun and expect what’s going to happen, allowing for the effect to hit a bit deeper. The spectator is fooling themselves, which is basically how every effect should be. That’s smart. Give this man a medal. I’ve also seen this style of thinking applied to introducting a four of a kind. Figure that shit out.
UPDOG – Tyler Wilson
This reminds me of Aronson/Bannon/Solomon’s ‘Among the Discards’ for the ending. A standard sandwich trick finishes.. and then keeps going. This effect goes into some unknown territory in a way, as there’s no real indication of what’s going to happen until the revelation where the whole effect comes full circle. To be honest, I really didn’t like some parts of the handling, but I silently mind-jizzed over the implications of the effect and the comments and explanation Tyler gave of the effect. There’s a lot of value in the effect, but the handling seems a bit off for some reason. I can’t quite put my penis on/in it. It’s a weird one. I spent three days trying to make another handling and all I got was bloated and some papercuts on my taint. Overall, really enjoyed the effect but just felt like there could be a less fiddly way to achieve the inception-like effect of a sandwich within a sandwich, or a Chipotle within a Taco Bell shooting out of my rectal cavity at Mach 3.
KIM CARD ASHIAN – Chris Mayhew
Another fucking sandwich trick… Really? HAHA JUST KIDDING, I’M HILARIOUS. If you can’t do a 25 phase sandwich routine, you are lower than the plebs who lovingly gaze up towards my sack for guidance. Chris has taken the sandwich plot and combined it with the Partagas Sell/Dunbury Delusion plot, where the magician fucks up and uses the selection in the course of finding the selection. The effect is short and to the point and I love how simple the handling is for the mileage you get out of the effect. My only issue with Chris’ effect was the initial handling for the selection. Without giving anything away, the method calls for the selected card to be removed by the performer and then lost back into the middle a second later. For the purpose of the method, I can think of at least 4 different ways to achieve the required result while avoiding weird unnecessary actions. Aside from that, love the simple twist that Chris has made with the plot mash-up. Give that man some Poutine.
HOT POCKET – Tyler Wilson
Finally, an effect that couples good magic with my crippling fear and inability of touching other people (Hoverhanding like a motherfucker, errr’day). Praise to you, based Tyler. The performer attempts to recreate the shortest ‘Hands Across America’ re-enactment/expressive dance number while showing them he’s capable of blowing their fucking minds. While he holds two spectator’s hands, the performer has another spectator choose a card and write it down on a piece of paper. The performer then asks the spectator to go into his shirt pocket, which she had previously removed other items from, to find the card matching her mental selection which she wrote down. I really loved this because of how ballsy it is while being fairly simple and straightforward as an effect for both the performer and the audience. The comments and tips at the end also show some awesome approaches to the method and effect that really do make a difference. If only you could somehow substitute the hand holding for crotch-grabbing, this would be the perfect effect. Shame on you Tyler . You were the chosen one.
KZSDYFBNCZK – Chris Mayhew
An effect that highlights how awesome Chris can be, and the dickish depths that Tyler can go to (I know your tricks, Mr Wilson). Chris takes Tyler’s ‘Updog’ sandwich-ception and puts a little spin on it. This handling feels a bit more like what I was going for when I was trying out Tyler’s effect, the handling feels more practical and tangible for an audience. A spectator’s selected card is produced between two cards and the selection is put aside. Another three cards are produced from between the sandwich cards and put aside. The deck and sandwich cards are put aside, and the performer picks up the four cards put aside through the trick, which smoothly transform into the selection being sandwiched by the two sandwich cards used at the start of the effect. Fuck yeah, throwbacks. Love you, Chrissy-Poo
SHORTSERS CUT – Tyler Wilson
Mandatory coin trick. Before reading this, I really didn’t have high hopes. Not a huge coin guy lately. Basically, the performer is able to perform an estimation/impossible location/impossible situation effect progression using only coins. At first, I called bullshit but warmed up to it.. here’s what I mean.
Reaction to first phase explanation: Fucking coin snatch bullshit. What a crock of shi…
Reaction to second phase: …. Ahhhhhhhh. You fucking sneaky sasquatch bastard, Tyler.
Reaction to all subsequent phases:
I really dislike how much happiness this routine gave me. The effect is great, the method is hilariously practical to learn and perform. It’s something that has a perverse and weirdly satisfying cause and effect for the method. Muchos gracias, Señor Wilson.
SANTA BABY WITH BABY MUSCLES – Chris Mayhew
These fuckin’ effect names.. brilliant. I like this effect, not because it was groundbreaking in what it achieved in the method or presentation, but because it just felt like a practical solution for the premise but also mixed it up a bit. A spectator names a card from the spread, the cards are then openly mixed face up and face down ala Jennings display. Half of the mixed up mess is cut into the spectator’s hand, the other half left in the magician’s. The moment happens, the magician’s half visually corrects itself, and the spectator spreads through their half, finding the cards all corrected except for the selection. Again, this is not the most amazing handling in the history of the world, but it has a special place in my heart (and my loins).
So… What’s the dealio? Worth it?
I really liked these notes. They didn’t make me question my sanity or challenge my perceptions of the universe (Fuck off with your “life changing” bizarre magick bullshit), but I had fun. I genuinely enjoyed reading and learning from the notes (as always, with Tyler and Chris’ write ups), but I also really enjoyed the effects as well.
Unfortunately, you could only get these if you were lucky enough to attend Tyler/Chris’ West Coast lecture tour last year.. Unless Tyler and Chris are considering another book release (Pretty pleaaaaaaaaase?)
If you manage to find these notes somehow and you’re a fan of Chris and Tyler’s previous works, get them. Good luck fucking finding them, bitches
I’m out, going to head back into my hole in the ground for another 6-12 months.
And no, I still don’t give a shit about anything you think, except the magical genius that plops out of my ass on a regular basis (Been a bit blocked up lately).
Here’s some shit that I’ve just caught up on. Old news, but hey, fuck you.
Most of my work is just regurgitated shit anyways, and people keep buyin’ it.
Conjuring Credits website
Unless you’ve been living under the ass-end of the known universe, Denis Behr should be a familiar name. Aside from his exceptionally huge hands, excessive consumption of beer and recent fascination with making dainty macarons, this German adonis also has two exceptional books on card magic, some great videos showing bullshit hard techniques being done well and a meticulously detailed book archive that makes me rock hard whenever I’m doing research.
Combining efforts from Conjuring Arts’ ‘Ask Alexander’ database, Denis, Bill Kalush, Tyler Wilson (<3), Aurelio Paviato, Roberto Giobbi and Dan Smith have made this unified historical resource available for all of us to enjoy. FYI, for like 99% of you from the Cafe, this means exactly DICK as you fuckers don’t care about anything beyond the shit I sling at you. To everyone else, it’s the kind of stuff that’s good to know if you give a shit about what you do.
Gary Plants’ new website & DVD
Gary has recently re-done his website, coinciding with the release of his Zarrow shuffle DVD. Having met Gary and seen him perform flawless Zarrows, false deals and fool the shit out of me with some insanely well-constructed material, I can’t recommend his stuff enough. He also makes some high quality gaffed cards and decks. Love you Gary xoxo.
The Hollingworth Collection
If Hugh Grant became a sexier, more-British-than-shitting-the-Queen-with-scones-and-tea giant, time travelled back to when trilbys were fashionable and started doing magic, you’d get Guy Hollingworth. Aside from his devilish good looks and whispering sweet nothings in my ear, he has released a new limited edition box set through the Buck Twins, collecting his previously impossible to find Routines, The Reformation and the London Collection VHS videos, as well as new/updated material in a pretty little box. Better get onto that shit soon, or you will miss out. Call me Guy 😉
The Skinner Tapes
Not sure how I feel about this. I love Michael Skinner’s material and respect the legacy the man left. A collection of audio CD’s recounting tips from the man sounds awesome, but I’m not sure how practically some of the finesses can be articulated. Looks like a very impressive amount of content covered, anyone want to give an opinion on it? I’m broke as fuck right now.
Anything else good that I missed?
It’s quiet as fuck in here.