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Bay area, Northern California
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Profile of magicpirate82
This is certainly an interesting and informing discussion. I’ve wrestled with these same issues and think the general theme developed here is right on.

My take is that NOTHING is better than visiting a local shop and seeing the effect performed. Your own reaction to the effect--even if you "know" the method--should tell you alot about how it may play. Now with that comment, there is some caution. I catch myself all the time looking at the effect through "magician’s eyes." My wife (and biggest critic) always reminds me that what I find amazing and effective may be (and usually is) completely unimpressive to her and likely other non-magician spectators.

I guess the second best method is the video clips of effects performed that many websites offer now. Very effective and has actually prevented me from wasting my money for a couple of effects. Seeing through some of the effects takes experience and may not be helpful for beginners but take that "test drive" if you can.

And I certainly agree with the suggestion that the best investment for the beginner is in books and video. Some have been mentioned here, I’m certainly a fan of Ammar’s videos/books and Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic. Learning the basics and classics first does provide a solid foundation and makes you a much more knowledgable effects shopper. Smile
Mary B.
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I guess the second best method is the video clips of effects performed many websites offer now.

I agree, with certain reservations. I'm a beginner, and became interested in the "Scotch and Soda" through reading some of the posts here at the Cafe. I found a video clip online of this, and all it showed was two coins on a table, and the magician passing his hands over them several times. The coins didn't change, or disappear, or move, or do anything - they just sat there. I didn't see anything particularly magical in that. Clearly, there was something missing in the video clip. I still have no clue as to what "Scotch and Soda" is supposed to do. I can only assume it should be more impressive than that clip made it.

So, from a beginner's point of view, many of those online clips aren't worth bothering with. I'll have to reserve judgement on live demo's until I see some.

Just my two cents!

:patty: Mary B.
Tom Cutts
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Northern CA
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I found the Lost Notebooks of J.N. Hilliard to be a treasure trove of very practical lost magic. Stuff that had been tucked away by the very best and now is still quite fresh and usable.

I am not a historical fan. If it doesn’t play for me then I really don’t have the time to indulge in it. I have a grounding in the history of magic and like reading the occasional treatise on a certain performer when it sheds light on performing magic.

Seeing one more conical, mechanical, device thingy is not going to help me one bit.

I am a big Al Baker fan so that might have lots to do with my joy over Lost Notebooks. I find it to be an invaluable source.

I respect your opinion but respectfully ask you to consider another forrage through those pages.

Peter Marucci
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Mary B,

Scotch and Soda:

The spectator is given a half dollar and a 20-centavo piece.

She puts one in each hand. She gives the magus the half (the larger of the two) and he bets her a Scotch and Soda (hence the name of the trick) that he can take the Mexican coin out of her hand.

He does some nonsense and, when she opens her hand, the coin is now a quarter.

Just about everybody in magic bought this trick at one time or other and just about nobody uses it.

It is very difficult to reset (if you are a busy table worker); the gimmicked coin(s) are a bit obviously gimmicked; and the handling is a tad suspicious.

Which is why I came up with the No-Gimmick Scotch and Soda.

No gimmicks; instant reset; no fake coins.

If you or anyone else is interested, e-mail me privately and I'll send you the routine that appeared in my Showtime column in the Linking Ring magazine a couple of years back.


Peter Marucci
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Tom, regarding Hilliard, with a high priced book I was disappointed to find a LOT of material I had already come across elsewhere.

I did like the Judah 5 Pellet Trick, then realized I’d been reading it A WEEK BEFORE in an old Frank Lane book. Plus, while well contructed, and the pellet switch could be utilized elsewhere, I doubt the routine would play fast enough these days. That’s ONE routine I liked. There are others.

Did you really want to read about Cards Across again? Zen’s then the two ten card packet versions? Devant’s Triangle? etc.

The notebooks may have been lost, but a lot of the material had not been, appearing later elsewhere.

Surely the idea of reproducing the pages as they were, complete with spelling mistakes and notes is aimed at collectors? Sometimes the notes are hardly readable and the print is very faint.

It IS an interesting book (often from a credit point of view and to see source material of later improved effects), but in my opinion over priced.

You said:

I respect your opinion but respectfully ask you to consider another forrage through those pages.

It is a book I will dip into again, for credit references, and I may try out a trick from there with a short card to see how it plays. It is not a bad book.

I respect your opinion also, but also respectfully ask you to consider another forrage through the pages of Encyclopedia of Card Tricks for Baker tricks, Judah, tricks etc.

People new to magic will come across SOME of the same tricks, and a lot more tricks for about an eighth of the price there.

Tom Cutts
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I rather liked the difficult hand written notes, not from a historical stand point exactly, but from the feel it gave, that these were the actual notebooks. I felt I could hear the typewriter, smell the cigar, and see the blinking theater sign across the street as I became detective to unravel these routines.

I admit I lost track of this forum and there is a wealth of greater material available at far less expense. Thanks for the wake up. I just didn’t want anyone to simply dismiss the book.

I found it interesting that right off the bat I found Al Baker with, basically, Jay Scott Berry’s Eclipse Tip and 80 years earlier to boot.

This book is not for the average "beginner" but can be a wealth of material and direction to someone looking for more than the beaten path... someone willing to work and evolve the routines.

I guess that is my fascination. This book inspired me to enjoy the labors more. What beginner wouldn’t benefit from that... though I’m not sure they would get it from this book if they are true beginners.

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Profile of htmagic
You folks are great! I saw a lot of discussion on magic for newcomers and I wish I had this guidance when I started out.

Actually, going to a brick and mortar store makes sense. You can see the dealer perform the trick and judge for yourself. I once knew a brick and mortar store where the dealer offered lessons for beginners and had a night of ropes, another one for coins, another for cards, etc. Of course, if you needed the shells, he had them for sale. I think this is an excellent way to learn magic and maybe if you talk to the dealer, he can point you in the right direction.

Another good place to learn is in a magic ring or club. The Internet is another good place to search but there is a lot out there...

I used to build a magic wand with a strobe flash in it. It was basically the FISM flash idea but in a wand. I had a dealer approach me and asked me about costs, etc. I had a set price that I wanted which wasn't much lower than what I was selling them for outright ($45). I think I told him $35 wholesale. He said, "too pricey" and we never had a deal. The next year I saw him at the dealers' table, guess what I saw? My flash wand, ripped off, and in his bin for $75. I looked at it and it looked like he had a high school kid slap one together. It wasn't even close to the quality of my device. I put a LOT of thought into mine and it showed. They always say "imitation is the finest form of flattery" but I guess it does not apply to magicians who have to feed their families?

Anyway, I know how others felt when their work gets ripped off. But as magicians, I think we ALL tend to do that to a degree. We see some hot new trick and then we rush out, buy it, and perform it EXACTLY the way it was shown to us. But the real good magi will put their own spin on it, have their own patter, and make it part of their own repertoire.

And for the one that said they should slap the newbie for saying, “What’s new?” shame on you! You should point out that NOTHING is new, unless it is electronics and even some of those tricks are based on old ideas. I admit that I’d rather have a trick that uses a gimmick rather than spend 150 hours in practice doing a move only a magician would appreciate. That may make the hairs stand up on some heads. But to the lay audience, they don’t know any better. I had a magician complain to me that he spent countless hours on a complicated card move and the audience would ask him to “do the trick with the [sponge] bunnies.” In fact, he now does mentalism as it packs small and plays big…

I think part of the rite of magic is having a drawer full of stuff that you never use or never will perform. It’s the nature of the beast. That’s why clubs have magic auctions so you can make room for new junk! Smile
May the FORCE be with you and have a magical day!


High-Tech Magic
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Sometimes it is impossible to get to a dealer. I can not find any near me. (As an aside -- if any know of a decent dealer near Guildford, Surrey, UK please let me know).

I have made mistakes, but now I'm beginning to think before buying. Partly because my style is starting to emerge, my experience is growing, my thought processes are getting attuned to magic and my bank balance is not as big as it was Smile

Belonging to a club has helped, not in choosing which routines but in thinking magic. There is no substitute for experience and no easy way to get that experience. Reading reviews on various lists and sites helps to guide me as well.

As I progress I hope to get more discerning in my choices.

Mike Smile

Your Reality Is A Figment Of My Imagination
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Profile of Dr. TORA
Yes everybody, I have to confess that this column has become a very intensive lesson in "Ethics". After 20 years on the stage this is the first time I saw this much of ethics together. I sincerely thank you all.
What about putting all these as a permanent post here in this Cafe? Smile
Magically Yours,


Have you visited my new Website in English, yet? or
Alan Wheeler
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I recently had a friend e-mail me a thread from somewhere about a new effect called
"Kolassal Killer." I really liked the idea--the general idea - and devised a way to do something similar myself.

I want to go into more detail, but maybe I should state my question first to show how this relates to ethics and this thread about
"beginner's view of magic." My question is whether I am doing something unethical.

As a beginner I heard about this effect, but didn't really like the fact that in the "KK" effect--apparently--the card which was named does not itself appear in the wallet but (sometimes?) just a prediction that is written. None-the-less I worked out a way to produce the effect of pulling any freely named card out of my wallet. I have no idea if this is just an age-old effect with many multiple methods over the years or not. I have only heard of the effect second-hand, so I obviously haven't stolen any presentation or technical facets. (If I were in the States where I could buy the effect, I think I would, although I think my effect is actually different.

So, the question is, what can beginners or anyone else for that matter legitamately use? I remember back in the '80's when I went to a magic convention in Atlanta and a guy seemed to have stolen an aspect of another guy's act outright. There was a performer who had as a joke in his act rigged up a box of "Sucretes" (cough drops) to say "Secrets"; it was kind of cool. But someone else--maybe not a professional performer--did a trick publicly with the same joke. I was tempted to do it myself just as an amateur, (but would never use someone else's material professionally as a writer, musician, or comedian or anything else.)

I am guessing that the heart issue is making effects "your own," your own style, presentation, and where possible even the effect. I am drawn to magic by the effects, and am as equally delighted to see you produce a good one as I would be myself. For me the "secrets" and methods are secondary, I won't say a necessary evil. This is probably controversial. I think as a beginner, the effects are what matter most---but I don't know if this view of magic relates to integrity.


P.S. I don't mean that easy effects are what attracted me to magic. I mean that the wonder attracted me more than manipulations or methods, which are always a means to that end. I don't mean either that if you love the methodology that you lack integrity.
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Harry Lorayne
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New York City
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I've usually thought that Paul H. knew somewhat what he was talking about - his opinions, etc. When he touches on "fact" however, look out. When he wrote above:

"1000 copies??? I think even that is a vast exaggeration.
I think one of the very first Lorayne tapes only sold 40 in the first 12 months."

Well, at least he said "he thinks." He's so wrong, it ain't funny. I've NEVER put out ANY item that sold that little. Where in the world does someone like that get that "information." I assume he's judging by how many of HIS items sell. HL.
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