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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » "Smooth Operations" by Kevin Ho (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

fingerjack
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CT, USA
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I was surprised to see there hasn’t been a review of Kevin Ho’s Smooth Operations, which he humbly calls a manuscript, but in my opinion is more like a small gem of a book. For those of you that don’t know, Kevin is a young man from Hartford, CT who lives in Singapore and has made quite a name for himself as a flourisher over the last several years, mostly on the Internet with a number of great videos and tutorials that display his deft skill with a deck of cards. His moves and flourishes are smooth, elegant, original, striking, and often quite beautiful.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin at a local mall a few years ago when he visited home in Connecticut. When a first met him, I expected to see him do so crazy eye candy, but instead he simply had me pick a card. Most people don’t know that Kevin, while known to many as a card flourisher or a Cardist, is actually quite a skilled card magician as well. The day went by and he showed me enough to make me want to throw my cards away. I knew this young man had a great future in card magic if he chose to continue with it, as he has other passions as well, such as film and video production. Most of all, he was a really nice guy; down to earth, humble, and a with a great sense of humor.

I was really glad to see that he has further evolved and eventually teamed up with Dan and Dave Buck and published his first booklet, Smooth Operations, which I offer a quick review of after hyping up the dude for over a paragraph.

Smooth Operations is a well produced 60 page booklet containing a wealth of fresh card material for the serious worker. Kevin’s writing style is straightforward, funny, and even sometimes crude. Kevin’s sense of humor is like mine, which may not be for everyone. The photographs are clear and the descriptions are detailed, but it will take some time and study for those who wish to truly reap the benefits of Kevin’s work. This material is not for the beginner and suited more for intermediate workers, as you will need to know some basic techniques in order to follow along.

There is a nice forward by Huron Low and an introduction by Kevin himself which gives you a good understanding of who you will be dealing with for the next fifty or so pages.

Each effect has a humorous anecdote about its creation and then a straight forward description of the effect.

Punk'd - Essentially a simple and clean handling of Paul Harris’ Re-Set. By far the easiest effect in the book and a nice one at that. There is one small detail I altered to suit myself, but with Kevin’s air of confidence I can see why this slips by 99% of the spectators. Kev offers an alternative to the Rhythm count called the Florida Count, which in my opinion is very nice but a bit too confusing for the spectator, but I’m sure in Kev’s hands it looks magical.

Static – Kev is fond of four card productions, and this is one that looks very nice. You rub your finger to gather some electricity which produces a card out of the deck, and then it’s three mates appear out of nowhere to resemble a vertical line (or bolt of lightning in my opinion). Flashy to say the least.

Inverse Impulse – Essentially this is an easier and cleaner version of the Victor Color Change, in which the top card of a jogged bottom packet instantly changes. The difference is the get ready, which took a knack for me to acquire, but it makes the change easier and more importantly, instantly repeatable. I enjoy Chris Kenner’s effect “In Ten City” but always had trouble with the change at the end. Kev’s solution was simple. A nice change you will use. Very visual.

Long Division – The effect is a card is produced that is equal in value to two selections made by two spectators, and then it is stretched into what appears to be one long card that grows from the center of the deck. The effect did not really appeal to me, so I have not tackled it, so I cannot comment on it any further other than it looks pretty darn cool in the trailer.

Pegasus – Another four card production using a one hand top palm (as a production!) and again the three mates flash appearing from the deck in a somewhat abstract display which in my opinion, does not look as nice as STATIC. However, the variation, Wingless Pegasus is better than both, resulting in a nice square display of protruding cards that come together with a whirl. Very nice indeed.

Florida Count – Kev credits Dan and Dave Buck’s Dracula Count as the inspiration for this somewhat flashy but unnatural way to show two cards as four ala a rhythm count. Again, Kevin’s thinking is clever and the moves are simple, but I feel the Rhythm count still looks more convincing. In any event, it is a nice count to have up your sleeve and may have some other applications I haven’t had a chance to think of.

PCP – A very pretty way to display four cards after the Florida Count, keeping two cards concealed. The result is an “X” display that is aesthetically pleasing; a trademark of Kevin's work.

Chaser – This is my favorite effect in the book. It is a quick location of a selected card that appears to teleport from the deck to appear sandwiched between two Kings held in your other hand. The Kings then turn to aces, and then back into Kings. The moves are easy and the effect is strong and I think is a fine demonstration of Kev’s creativeness and attention to theme. This one will stay in my repertoire for many years to come.

Racoon – A neat little flourish in which the top card spins 540 degrees around the thumb on the top of the deck. It sure looks easy, but I had a very difficult time in following the instructions, simply because I believe it is more of a knack and to break it down into words would be difficult for anyone. Maybe it’s just me, but I have not been able to do this smoothly. A lot of it depends on the moisture (or lack of) on the first finger. I’ve grown frustrated trying to do this move and can only catch a small glimpse in Kev’s videos of how it is supposed to look, which by the way, is very cool. A variation is offered that allows the card to revolve infinitely around the thumb called RACCOOOOOOON, but I haven’t got there yet, but *** it, I’m gonna keep trying. Kev makes it look so easy and maybe it is, but I had trouble following the directions despite the clear pictures of the move in motion. Help anyone?

Collectors Redux – Three spectators choose cards and are lost back into the pack. Not only are they found in a flash, but the four Queens are found as well ending in a nice display across the table. A nice spin on the collectors plot, but what makes it unique is Kev’s keen eye for visual coolness; like many of his displays, they are artistically sound and make geometrical sense.

Visa Switch – A visual switch in which the bottom card of a face up deck is apparently turned face down when in reality it is changed for the top card of the deck. The move is easy, practical, and Kev gives some neat ideas on where to take the switch after completion. A nice move to add to the overused term of “your arsenal.”

Fully Loaded – My favorite four card production in the book centered on the patter of Ricky Jay’s Cards As Weapons. The three Kings rotate out of the deck in symmetric perfection to join their mate already outjogged from the deck. A little bit of practice is all it takes to make you wonder why you never thought of it. A very nice production and display.

Conspiracy of Four – This is Kev’s spin on the Aces to Kings theme. A four of a kind is promised to be found, but after finding three, the fourth is a miss. Never fear, the other three cards are turned into mates of the mistaken card producing four of a kind after all. I really like Kevin’s unique approach to this classic, in which he uses some nice sleights and misdirection to achieve the end result which should have most jaws dropping.

Bob Change – A visual one handed single card change from some abstract thinking that makes Kev a unique creator. The card appears to change in the twinkling of an eye. Taking a flaw he feels is not addressed in other changes of this type, he inverts it to produce a startling change which is thing of beauty. Not difficult and practical.

Repainted – What appears to be a color changing fan effect is actually a clever use of a fanning technique I never even thought of. It took quite a bit of tinkering for me to get it to look right. Essentially, a blank fan is changed to faces with a swipe of the hand without resorting to any doubled fan techniques. This is a beauty of a move that can be added to any manipulation or close up effect, but will require a bit of practice, but you will find the reward well worth the effort.

Lastly, there is an afterward by Dan Buck and References. I should mention throughout the booklet there is filler material that is fun reading. Kev gives some great ideas and gags, my favorite being Stuck On You with which I have had a ton of fun with. Kev, this is brilliant but you are an SOB! You will like this one; your helper may feel different. The filler material is good and Kev also gives you an expert tip on keeping your hands moist that may not apply to everyone (unless you are perhaps a resident in a nursing home).

All in all, Smooth Operations is a great effort from Kevin Ho and well worth the money if you are into some unique card thinking. Kev’s work is clear, direct, and always inspiring. The instructions may need to be reread a few times before you fully grasp the concept, but I suppose that is like most magic books so that shouldn’t be news to anyone. I hope we can expect more from this young man in the future, for I think this is just the beginning. Nice work Kev and thank you. Now, if I can just figure out that darn Raccoon thingy….

Smooth Operations by Kevin Ho sells for $25.00 from many dealers and as a $20.00 PDF download from http://www.dananddave.com. You can find a trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLIUsKnJFF0 and for those of you unfamiliar with Kevin’s work, I recommend visiting his youtube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/kevhonline.
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Donny Orbit
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Awesome review! I enjoyed the book a lot as well. Very strong magic and crisp photos.

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boinko
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Illinois
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I realize this an old post, but I just got this book. Punk'd is incredible. It's a *fantastic* handling of Re-set. I'm working through all the variations of Re-set I can find, and I like this one very much. I still favor the version Stephen Hobbs's demo'd on Jack Carpenter's DVD (especially the clean count for the Aces and Jacks) -- but Punk'd is interesting version -- and nicely straightforward.

This is a great book, BTW. Highly recommended.
asherfox
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May I ask where can I buy download of this book?
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