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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » New Steve Spill book MAGIC IS MY WEED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

steve spill
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MAGIC IS MY WEED
NEW STEVE SPILL BOOK

The Magic Circle in London called my last book, HOW TO MAKE LOVE THE STEVE SPILL WAY, “the book of the decade.” That was kind of embarrassing – but if those brainy upper-crust UK dudes think that, who am I to argue? Their review was in the May 29, 2019 Magic Circular.

My wife Bozena says I’m brilliant and the funniest magician on the planet. Well, I am her husband, so she might not be objective – but since she knows me better than anyone, it must be true.

Don’t ask me. All I can say for sure is that I’ve been a comedy magician for fifty years who has walked a mile in every man’s shoes. What I mean is, I’ve lived large and fallen hard – and I’ve survived – performing at casinos, corporate events, social soirees, on TV, and for the last two-plus decades I’ve done my own show in my own theater, Magicopolis, in Santa Monica. That’s how I know what I know. You could steal five or six books from the Magic Castle library, and not get anywhere near as much help and inspiration as you’ll get in my new masterwork – MAGIC IS MY WEED.

This book is designed to skyrocket your creativity – it offers practical techniques and exercises for improvising without preparation as a comedy magician – which is different than what a set-up punchline stand-up comic does, or sketch actors improvising with each other do. You get a sure-fire callback system with tags that you can incorporate into your show right away – if you have no idea what that last sentence meant – you need this book. I reveal my personal innovative ideas on how to capture swinging singles, kids, teenagers, seniors, corporate crowds, and establish rapport and a sense of camaraderie with those audiences – for real – along with a pantload of other ideas that will help you increase engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life.

PLUS YOU GET TWELVE SURE-FIRE AUDIENCE-TESTED ROUTINES that can help close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Kick ass with these routines that are complete with every gesture, nuance, method and handling – including word-for-word laugh-getting scripts that get results. These are the twelve routines of which I speak:

MINDREADING GOOSE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZDtzhPCry4

GRAB N STAB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj4wvnuB4rM

MUNCHIES
A spectator selects a restaurant menu and mentally orders a meal – the magician divines the appetizer, entree, and dessert and wraps the bit with a surprise finish.

POTHEAD
One of the most crowd-pleasing Miser’s Dream routines ever, with six silver dollars, a pot and a large spoon, that ends with a dinner plate size coin.

BIZ CARD BUNCO
Seven solid corporate event minutes where a spectator takes on a new identity and you divulge their innermost thoughts.

AN AROUSING DOUSING
A spectator is given a dousing rod that goes haywire and finds hidden water amongst a boatload of whisky.

BROKEN MIRROR
A bloody message mysteriously appears on the surface of a broken piece of mirror. Yes, that’s the bottom line visual effect. But what really affects the crowd response to the surprise writing is the story.

CUB
I’ll wager there’s never been another routine where an appearing and vanishing golden Cub Scout wolf neckerchief and slide were used as a metaphor for a plethora of unwanted ordered and returned mail-order items – no gimmicks and plenty of comedy and magic throughout this eight-phase presentation.

THE RENAISSANCE NUDE
Being an artist has always been a good way for geeks to get chicks naked. Especially true with this Renaissance routine, that makes use of a three-panel painting, known as a triptych, and the surprise funny finish features an actual nude.

GROUPIE
A volunteer groupie imagines herself at a concert – without revealing a thing – that artist’s music starts playing on an old record player, simultaneously that very record cover rises from a stack, and on the back of our groupie’s photo is a poster advertising the exact concert in mind – from the artist, right down to the date, time, and venue.

WASTE NOT
Although the general effect, that of restoration, is nothing new… this reweaving of how to get to that conclusion precludes audiences from anticipating the outcome. Nope, I’m not talking about the popular pastime of pretending to read jokes off pre-torn pieces of newspaper. In fact, there isn’t any newspaper involved at all. This is a never-revealed-before effect and never-revealed-before method.

RICE PAPER
The penultimate two-person balls-over-head routine that’s been perfected in over 20,000 performances.

MAGIC IS MY WEED has everything a book should have: 287 sequentially numbered pages, ink, binding – even a hardcover – all at no extra charge!

Special pre-publication discount offer – $95 paypal to info@stevespill.com international $120, all pre-publication orders are personally autographed and include shipping and handling. MAGIC IS MY WEED is due to ship in seven weeks, thereafter $125 per copy domestic, $150 international.

Hasn’t indecision ruled your life long enough? Take a stand and buy this groundbreaking inspirational manifesto now.
msmaster
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Ordered
markmiller
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I've ordered based on seeing at least half of the routines listed as being in the book performed live at Magicopolis..
trickynick
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I just finished reading the book to do a review for Vanish Magic Magazine and I loved it! The opening chapters are a great informal history/biographical section that contains a HUGE amount of wisdom underneath the casually flip exterior. Steve's thoughts on creating comedy and his P.E.S.K. formula are worth the price of admission. The 12 routines included are all unusual, innovative and very commercial. I believe that any comedy magician can improve his work just by following the way Steve's mind works. Great advice/great routines this is a classic!
steve spill
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Stevespill.com is now live
landmark
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You may enjoy reading my review of Steve Spill's new book, Magic Is My Weed:

https://jackshalom.net/2019/09/07/high-t......e-spill/
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steve spill
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Pre-publication sale price ends 9-25-19
JANY IAN SWISS “I simply don’t know of a better book of real-world counsel on what it takes to perform professionally on stage, to make a living at it, and to be funny in the process.”

JAMY IAN SWISS REVIEW
https://www.magicana.com/news/blog/magic......4chymUrk

JACK SHALOM REVIEW
https://jackshalom.net/2019/09/07/high-t......e-spill/

Hasn’t indecision ruled your life long enough? Take a stand and buy this groundbreaking inspirational manifesto now. stevespill.com
steve spill
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NEW MAGIC CIRCLE WEED REVIEW.

Magic Is My Weed by Steve Spill, Magic Concepts, Santa Monica, www.stevespill.com, 2019; hb, 6” x 9”, 236 pp., $150 including international carriage.
A short while back I enthused greatly over the prequel to this: the author’s ‘How To Make Love The Steve Spill Way’. Such was my unabashed zest for that volume that I gushed, “There are woefully few books for the stand-up comedy magician: itself a dying breed as performing conditions increasingly favour the close-upper. This is at heart (and this book has a big heart) a love song for the parlour/stage comic performer, doubling as a lesson in scripting, routining and theatricality”. Steady on there: but it applies largely to this volume too.

This is very much Volume Two of a concatenation: it offers up a mirror to its predecessor. So you will find a combination of entertaining, insightful autobiographical details and quirky commercial routines that will resonate with readers of the ‘Love…’ book.

This wisecracking hippie speaks for most of those of us with the presumption and neediness to stand up in front of strangers and seek their unalloyed approval when he admits: “There is no more thrilling feeling then the sound of people who are surprised and clapping and cheering – it acts like a drug. It is my weed”. To his credit, few are prepared to go to such lengths to fish for that level of public approbation than Spill; some of the routines (in both books) are not only idiosyncratic but entail him going to unusual lengths to concoct a routine.

A routine that embodies the Spill style of chutzpah will be the one those familiar with his oeuvre will flip the pages to locate upon unwrapping the book: ‘The Mindreading Goose’. It has become something of a signature routine for Spill; it is very funny, in the Venn diagram of Rocky Raccoon but with a (hopefully) unique climax when the featured Goose takes a wazz over the front row. It sold for the best part of $500 – may still do as far as I know – as a dealer item, but like the afore-mentioned Rocky, I cannot envisage it in any one else’s hands. It’s laid out here in all its glory and to the requisite detail to allow you to make one for yourself; I doubt many will, and in many ways, I hope they don’t: it would be a calamity to see such a gem ruined in lesser hands than Spill’s.

As with its prequel, this is very much a book of two parts; ‘Contact High’ (geddit?) is a sequence of great anecdotes, autobiographical insights that offer a thoroughly enjoyable, if slightly unnerving trip through Spill's bizarre mind. Do not be beguiled by his entertaining anecdotal style though; there is much hard-gained wisdom contained in this half of the book, and for me just these 80 pages or so would be an invaluable publication on their own; in which case the routines come as a huge bonus. A particularly welcome aspect of this is his entry into an examination of his approach and attitude to comedy; David Regal pronounced this segment as “priceless”, and Regal certainly knows his comedy.

Then come the routines, and there are a few veritable pearls amongst those that are, shall we say, somewhat idiosyncratic: likely to remain Spill’s alone. ‘Mindreading Goose’ aside, I was attracted to his unusual and beautifully staged version of ‘Paper Balls Over Head’, as far from Slydini’s as you are likely to encounter. His ‘Miser’s Dream’ with spluttering finish is a hoot; you’ll have great fun just envisaging yourself standing on a stage and delivering it.

Even if you do not pick up any of these routines as written, you will certainly learn much from his approach, thinking, attention to detail (which is extraordinary) and the relationship he develops with his audiences (for example his take on the T&R Newspaper). And there are so many great lines included that the comedy performer will seize upon with an ungainly alacrity: like a pig snuffling out truffles, the result is a joy to digest.

You can only get these volumes from the author, and they come with an eye-watering international delivery charge; and an asking price of over $300 delivered for the two books may seem veering towards exploitative. As tends to be the case with the release onto the market of a lifetime of commercial insights and material from a true professional: here’s a price to be exacted for such a release. If your wallet forces you to choose between the two, I’d point out that the first book gave me more pleasure than its still-excellent successor and is still an essential purchase for me. Whichever way you decide to go, you will rarely enjoy the fruits of such an investment in magical literature with such laugh-out-loud relish.
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Today's WEED REVIEW LITTLE EGYPT GAZETTE

STEVE SPILL TELLS ALL -- Steve Spill makes me laugh. I became a huge fan in the early eighties, visiting his and Bob Sheets' Brook Farm Inn of Magic a half dozen times, the most perfect full evenings of dining and magic I can imagine. If you have never encountered Steve's twisted sense of humor, you can via YouTube (see my notes in July 2019) or through his more formally compiled DVD, 10 Years of Steve Spill 1980-1990. Alas, you can no longer encounter him at Magicopolis, at least not on a regular basis, as he has sold the establishment to the Magic Castle's Randy Sinnott. More recently, you can encounter Steve in his new book, Magic Is My Weed.

Said book mimics the previously praised How to Make Love the Steve Spill Way, with about half devoted to essays (theory and history) and half to a dozen fully polished professional stage routines.

Professional magic you can do!
Now shipping!
Theory. The opening chapter "Let's Party" makes the case that performing magic generates extreme bliss (the drug metaphor), a true high for a boy who grew up loving (as I did) magic, old rock and roll, and various magazines (Mad, Famous Monsters of Filmland, and Genii). Ah, but unlike me, Steve's dad was a Magic Castle medium and his "uncles" were Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller. Not fair. He sold Magicopolis not so much for getting bored of performing (although he did over 200 shows a year for 21 years) as for "work" (paying employees, making the monthly nut, etc.). He has dropped back to a few shows a month.

The rest of the chapter focuses on agents and managers, show producers, being a wisecracking hippie, being yourself on stage (huge part of the Love book), the notion that humor enhances mystery, being more analog than digital, and what the rest of the book promises, especially if magic is your weed.

That promise includes theory chapters on exactly how to address various aspects of stage performance, analysis I've seen rivaled only in David Kaye's work on kid shows.

"Spur of the Moment" addresses improv: why you should do it and how you can do it. Why increases being now with your audience. As to how, Steve advises no fourth wall, thinking while they are laughing, saying the second or third thing rather than the first, interviewing spectators and reacting to their answers, living a full life, reading humor, being informed, applying the acronym PESK to your routines to make them funnier, and limiting profanity. (That last suggestion does not apply to magic books.) Regarding humor, I regularly read Steve's suggestions of James Thurber and S.J. Perelman and would add to his list P.G. Wodehouse, Jean Shepherd, and Peter De Vries.

"OA" is Steve's technique for controlling a general audience via callbacks and tags. It is guaranteed to generate plenty of oohs and ahs.

"The Dope on young Humans" is Steve's strategy for controlling a theater full of young kids -- school field trips were popular at Magicopolis. Let's just say the method would be explosive. I have often wondered: the rumor at Brook Farm was that Steve and Bob Sheets used to host pizza matinees for kids only. Could these kid control techniques have been developed there?

"Paparazzi!" contains general thoughts on entertaining teenagers -- graduation parties were popular at Magicopolis -- along with a specific strategy involving a pop-up necktie. I must admit the latter made me a bit squirmy, and I am someone who performed and published Love Potion Number 9 (a unique Card from Fly routine) and The World's Most Obscene 21 Card Trick (The Little Egypt Book of Numbers). Steve's teen chapter concludes with some ideas on performing for seniors.

"Tough Skin" takes me back to the MAGIC Live session called Ghost Stories, hosted by Mac King and Max Maven in scout uniforms by a campfire. Various pro magicians told horror stories of their worst performances. This chapter contains Steve's worst, and they are really bad. The chapter concludes with Mark Wilson's advice on what to do when things go that wrong.

Magic. And then we have a dozen complete routines with all the little touches that have made them so great over thousands of performances. Among them ...

Mind Reading Goose is Steve's most iconic trick. I doubt that you are reading this review if you are not deeply familiar with it. "Not bad for a goose!" There is a great story about how the routine evolved from a car ride with John Kennedy (the magician, not the President), Tim Conover, and a bumper sticker that read SAVE A TREE, EAT A BEAVER. All the performing details are here, including permission to perform it, but you will be money and time ahead if you purchase the whole darn thing from Bob Kohler.

Not bad for a goose!
See the material performed here.
Grab N Stab is Steve's Russian Roulette routine with five knives. Don't worry about it failing: it fails every time, with a great comic ending.

Broken Mirror is a bizarre effect, with a Satanic message in blood on a piece of broken mirror. Perfect for Halloween.

Rice Paper is Steve's Paper Balls Over the Head routine with toilet paper that he and Bob Sheets turned into a hilarious two-person routine, at least twice as funny as any prior version. Wife Bozena later handled the honors at Magicopolis. History note: Steve first encountered this routine as a volunteer for Slydini himself.

And eight more: a terrific mind reading routine re menu selections, a Miser's Dream that uses a pot, a spoon, and six dollar coins, a business card force, a mental effect for Multiplying Bottles, a manipulation trick with a Cub Scout neckerchief slide, a new use for a Grant Temple Screen, a haunted record album collection, and a Mother's Day wrapping paper restoration.

As I opened, Steve Spill makes me laugh. Not just on stage, but in his writing. He has a humor-centric approach to life and the written word. But funny as he is (his writing is up there with Regal and Caveney), the best laugh in the book goes to Bozena, for her comment at the bottom of page 210. I am still laughing.

Like the previous book: Hard cover, 238 pages, highly entertaining writing, with funky illustrations by the author, from Magicopolis.com. $125.

Are there more of these books in the pipeline? I am thinking illusions. The Spill-Sheets Substitution Trunk and the Levitation of a Lady from the Audience play large in my memory.

Click here to view attached image.
MagicBrent
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Have preorders gone out yet? I still haven’t gotten my preorder and now Penguin has these in stock 😞
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Don't worry about pre orders, Spill just sold to Penguin and I just received mine from him, and the book is $25 cheaper from Penguin than buying from him. I try to support the original creators, but things like this leave a bad taste. Thanks Spill, shows the type of person you are.
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Takeachance - I NEVER SOLD TO PENGUIN. And you’re not alone, I'm upset too, WEED, like my LOVE book, and the upcoming ASSASSIN are priced at what I consider a fair cost based on the content and the million hours of developing, performing, refining, and writing, that go into that. I know I'm at the high end and therefore sell fewer books than others more popularly priced - and that books don't sell like they used to. I wholesaled to Murphy’s Magic and did not deal with Penguin. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I have two new books in the pipeline now, since I don’t need any more sarcastic Thank Yous… I’ve decided never to wholesale again.
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I'm so glad you replied to clear things up and now understand what has happened. My disappointment came from being a big fan of your work and creativity, which is why I jumped on the pre order. I thank you for your integrity and trying to set things right. Penguin have now put the price at what you originally released it at. I look forward to any other of your book releases
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I've seen Spill's Magicopolis show many times, the quantity and quality of his words and concepts often flow so quickly that you can only hope to let them wash over your consciousness and bathe in their essence, because it is impossible to stop time and live appreciatively in each individual moment. Thankfully, though, in Magic is My Weed, you can do just that, especially relevant to me, even more than the routines are the exercises and methods covering the one-of-a-kind ways a magician takes advantage of improvising.
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John Lovick / Genii does WEED

About a year ago I wrote a rave review of Steve Spill’s How to Make Love the Steve Spill Way. I described the book as something Spill had poured his soul into, offering advice, wisdom, guidance, and material from his working repertoire. It is funny, inspiring, profane, smart, wise, insightful, crude, and occasionally baffling, with flashes of genius.

Amazingly, a year later, Spill has done it again. Everything I said about his previous book is true of his latest, Magic is My Weed. (The first book’s title referenced sex. This one uses drugs as a metaphor. Don’t anybody be surprised if, in twelve months, he releases another masterwork with a title that invokes rock and roll.)

In my review of Make Love, I did mention that the book’s aesthetics and graphic design were horrible and its punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. were atrocious—although I explained why readers won’t care. Well, Spill must have read that review because he obviously took bold action this time. It seems that he obtained restraining orders from the Los Angeles Superior Court preventing any and all proofreaders, editors, and graphic artists from being allowed within a thousand yards of this new manuscript. But once again, I’ll give Spill a pass here. He’s always been true to himself; with both his performances and his literary offerings, you know what you’re in for.
Weed is divided into two sections, “Contact High,” which contains six essays, and “Cash Crop,” which describes twelve tricks. The essays, while occasionally meandering and digressive, are filled with gold that comes from a lifetime of performing in every circumstance imaginable, and offer the insight of someone who has created dozens of original, offbeat routines.

The first essay is a potpourri, mixing memoir, business advice, insights into how his creative process and performing aesthetics were formed, and the story of how he ended up running a magic venue in Santa Monica, rather than starring in his own show in Las Vegas—and how he came to sell that venue twenty-some years later.

The second essay, “Spur of the Moment,” is about improvising onstage and being funny without any preparation or planning. Spill offers effective exercises to improve your improvisational and ad lib skills—something I know you could use help with.

The third essay offers offers good, practical techniques for increasing audience participation, and advice on creating humor, callbacks, and tags, as well as explanations for why these are valuable and effective.
Spill next writes about performing for kids, and his definition of kids is “young humans constantly making noise”. One of his insights is that kids’ reaction can become contagious. “If one kid starts screaming or giggling or applauding, even the children that were docile join in.” He explains how to channel this pattern of behavior, and direct and manipulate it to your benefit.

In “Paparazzi!” Spill writes about performing for teenagers, the most self-conscious humans on the planet; a side effect of this is that they can be your best source of comedy material and bits of business. He recommends treating teens as if they are much more mature than they probably are, because they appreciate this and will cooperate with you, “and when they start to recognize that you’re hipper than they thought—you got them.”
“Thick Skin,” the last essay, explains why bombing is good for you. Spill explains the value in facing a hostile crowd, the gift in being heckled or even booed off the stage. One of his anecdotes includes this passage: “‘Ladies and gentlemen, Sahara Tahoe is proud to present... Kenny Loggins...’ The audience began to roar like I’d never heard, ever. The roof came off the place. The announcer continued, ‘... with magician ...’ That’s all he said and the booing started. It builds and builds and builds.” Go through that some time. You’ll develop thick skin.

But I know you’re really interested in the second section of the book—you wanna learn some tricks. Well, you’re in luck, because Spill reveals all concerning twelve of his creations. I will focus on three of the tricks, because they are among his most iconic and memorable, and they have the most to teach, even if you never perform any of them: “The Mindreading Goose,” “Grab N Stab,” and “Rice Paper.”

I first saw “The Mindreading Goose” over twenty-five years ago. I thought it was a masterpiece then, and I still do. The title basically sums it up—a stuffed goose puppet reads audience members’ minds, writing down its divinations with a Sharpie in its bill. Along the way there are some great jokes and sight gags. The method wouldn’t fool you, but the details are priceless and can be incorporated into other mentalism routines. For a while this routine could be bought for $1500; keep that in mind if you think the price point for this book is too high.

You may think “Grab N Stab” is related to all the “Smash and Stab” routines of the last twenty years. And it is, in that it predates them all, and is better, because it is fundamentally different in several important ways. For example, the ratio is the inverted from routines you are familiar with. Here, four of the knives are genuine and one is harmless, raising the stakes, and making it much more interesting. Spill wanted to invent a dangerous and senseless game of chance. He considered a number of weapons: hand grenades, power drills, crossbows, chainsaws, but for various reasons, settled on knives. Bob Sheets insisted it be funny, so Spill’s goal was to take something with a genuine sense of danger and make it comedic. He accomplished his goal; the routine is funny, ending with a slapstick stabbing and a ludicrous live-action cartoon finish.

Finally, in a nutshell, “Rice Paper” is a version of the iconic “Paper Balls Over the Head.” But a secret assistant, precise timing, and clever scripting transform it into something much bigger and more memorable. When I saw Spill perform this at Magicopolis, I assumed it had been created for that specific theatre, because it fit the layout so well. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Spill has done this in numerous situations from casino showrooms to comedy clubs to hotel ballrooms and elsewhere. It originated in the 1970s in a bar. Someone is going to adopt and adapt this and make their reputation with it.

Of the nine remaining tricks, I didn’t love all of them. But even the tricks that I didn’t originally think were very interesting had some surprising subtlety or some out-of-left-field method or counterintuitive new use of a principle. As he writes, his material can be juvenile and sophisticated at the same time.

Here’s a brief overview of most of the other offerings. In “Munchies” a spectator mentally orders a meal from a randomly selected menu. The magician divines the appetizer and entrée, then proves he had predicted the mentally selected dessert. This is a solid, straightforward mentalism routine that could inspire many different presentational possibilities. The room for personalization and adaptation is vast.

“Pothead” is a charming version of The Miser’s Dream using a cooking pot, six silver dollars, and a large spoon for a magic wand. It’s a nice routine with new bits and jokes. If you Miser’s Dream, there are definitely ideas you can use here.
“Biz Card Bunco,” another mentalism routine, offers a cool method that I’m sure can be used for many different purposes, and includes a real lesson in how to take what could be a trivial revelation and really make into a baffling display of mind reading.

In “Broken Mirror” a bloody message mysteriously appears on the surface of a broken piece of mirror. It’s a minor piece as far as magic tricks go, but a nice exploration of how to present disturbing or macabre material.
“The Renaissance Nude” is an amusing presentation for a quick trick with a U.F. Grant “Buddha Temple Screen.” It’s presented as a lesson in art history (the Temple Screens are presented as a triptych) that ends with a surprising production of a funny sculpture.

“Waste Not” is a Torn and Restored Wrapping Paper effect routine for Mother’s Day. I believe this will be one of the most performed pieces from the book, but will be performed during the Holidays, on Birthdays, and other occasions, but it won’t have as much impact as Spill’s performances on Mother’s Day. Pay attention to his analysis of post-climax proofs and convincers.

A year ago, I enthused that Spill’s book had offered us a life’s worth of advice and material. And here he’s done it again. How many lives’ worth of material and advice does he have? I’m looking forward to finding out.
Magic Is My Weed • Steve Spill • 6" x 9"; 237 pages, laminated hardcover, illustrated with pen and ink drawings; published by Magic Concepts, Inc.; www.magicopolis.com; Dealers should contact the publisher; $125. stevespill.com
Tim Cavendish
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Penguin has discontinued its discounted pricing on the book. It is now $125 from Penguin.
markmiller
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I think the Penguin discount offer was a short-term tease designed to call some quick attention to the book. $125 seems to be the price everywhere. Well worth it, I might add.
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You can get it Hocus Pocus for $99.95 by signing up for a free membership. Once or twice a month, they will send an email offering 33% or 35% off retail to members. That would knock it down to $81.25. While they do charge for shipping, you will still come out ahead.
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