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I have a propensity to purchase instructional products. I can't help it. As much as I love getting my hands on the latest, greatest magic trick, I favor a good lecture, assuming it's worth my time.

Magic and Chicago seem to go hand in hand. Undoubtedly some of the greatest performers of all time either grew up or spent their lives in the Windy City. I'm not at all surprised at the influx of young talent coming from Chicago, including this month's At The Table lecturer..Simon Black. Simon is an emerging, world class, sleight of hand performer. I was familiar with Simon by name and via his connection with several new releases, but I really didn't know what to expect.

With a style and demeanor reminiscent of of a young Josh Jay, Simon gave his first extended lecture, facilitated by Gregory Wilson. Greg was the perfect choice, based on the amazing skill set of Simon, and accented by Greg's voluminous knowledge. I appreciate that Greg comes into the lecture unscripted, and freely comments on all aspects of the performance.

Truthfully, if you are a fan of classic sleight of hand, this is the ideal lecture. Here's a few of the reasons why:

Leipzig Performance and Explanation.. Simon both demonstrates and explains with Greg's questions and observations. I appreciate that everything was explained in detail and not glossed over. I'm bothered at times when the performer 'assumes' his audience knows the nuiances.

Longitudinal Swivel Steal, Diagonal Palm Shift and Palming. Simon shares his handling of all three, in detail, and assisted by multiple camera angles and positions.

Forest Fire Triumph Performance and Explanation.. Worth the cost of the lecture. Simon performs a beautiful Triumph, fair in every respect, and quite unsettling in both its simplistic appearance and complex handling. This effect made me question why I even bother... Almost 30 minutes of detailed explanation helped bring me back from the edge.

Simon followed his Triumph with a variety of sleights, moves, and effects.. including B-T Change Performance and Explanation, Limoges Whipplestuff, ideas On The Classic Force and the Table Classic Force. Hofzinser Spread Force and the Ascanio Spread, plus Fantasia and Canasta.. among others. I don't want to spoil the many surprises, but I do want to give you a good sampling of what to expect.

Following segments of the lecture, Simon and Greg take questions from the audience. The audience, of course, being online, and sending their questions in real time. I have not been able to watch a lecture in real time, but rely on the downloadable file to be able to watch it in my time.

In total, the lecture ran over 3 hours. I was surprised that I got lost in the lecture and time seemed to pass so fast. Simon has a very engaging personality and Greg lets him run. I was beyond impressed when I read this was his first lecture. I can't wait to see how he develops as both a performer and a personality. I think we'll agree Simon has many ways like David Regal, which is quite the compliment.

As a writer/editor who loves sharing with other magicians, this AT THE TABLE experience gets two distinct thumbs up. Overall, Five to six hours of solid instruction for a small fee each month has to be one of the best tips I have to offer, based on the lectures I've seen to date. I purchased this 'At The Table' through Murphy's Magic, but I think it's also available at most of the larger magic dealers..
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