Category: Magic Review

Great Magic Tricks and Magic Dealers

1926-Johnson Smith Co. AdAs all readers know, InsideMagic.com does not do paid endorsements of Magic Dealers or their tricks for sale.  When we review a trick, readers know that we really, really like it and are not receiving a red cent for the good word.

Not that we are against being bribed to writing a great review for a lousy trick but the offer doesn’t come around that often.  That could be because Magic Dealers are notoriously honest and we have a readership hovering in the single digits and the hovering is in the lower range of that single digit range.  We prefer to think that Magic Dealers are honest and above bribes.

But the subject has caused us to wonder: why do Magic Dealers like Viking Magic, Meir Yedid and Cody Fisher produce quality tricks.  They could produce the same effect to do the same thing with lousy quality but they don’t.

We got to thinking about this when we received Viking Magic’s Nest of Brass Boxes.  The tolerances of the brass machining is exact and, dare we say — and we do dare, it’s our nature — perfect.  The trick is not new, it is the quality of the trick that makes the difference.  George Robinson is not just a nice guy and proprietor of a great shop, he seems to insist on quality when less than quality would do.  The brass is beautiful, the instructions are great, the delivery was prompt and the trick works right out of the box.  We didn’t have to make the gimmick or even polish the brass.

Meir Yedid apparently loves magic as much as we do.  His services include the latest magic news and his descriptions of the effects he sells are first class.  He gives a short history on how he came upon the trick, offers his suggested variations on handling, and great prices.  Again, he doesn’t need to do this.  People in our business know Meir Yedid.  They trust him and so he could rest on his laurels.  We recline on our beanbag chair, we have no laurels on which to rest.  If we did, they would probably have thorns making for a difficult resting experience.

As many InsideMagic.com readers know, we have a jones for color changing knives.  It could be because it was the first trick we received on the first day upon being employed by the legendary Barry Gibbs — developer of the finest Rising Card effect ever made, the A.M.Y Rising Cards — at the legendary Magic Wagon at the no-longer existent Palm Beach Mall.  He instructed us to learn the moves and to come back for our next day at work with it practiced.  He also told us to clip and clean our fingernails before demonstrating any magic at the kiosk.  That set was from D. Robbins with the locking blade.  We loved it because it was our introduction into our mentorship with Mr. Gibbs.  Over the next two years, he taught us so much but the Color Changing Knives stuck — pun intended.

We have purchased Joe Mogar sets, Rodger Loveland‘s beautiful and larger set, and now two more sets from Meir Yedid including a set made from used car parts.  How many sets does on magician need?  We don’t know but when we find out, we’ll share the news on this humble site.

Cody Fisher is not only inventive, he is a great guy.  His personal approach to dealing with customers and past customers is the finest — and it does not have to be.  His tricks are strong enough to be a less interested or helpful dealer but that apparently not his style.

But why?  Why make such great Magic Tricks with such high quality and great customer service?  Because we are a small market?  No, they would have greater economic incentives to do the bare minimum and take the least path to satisfying the customer.  The economics of the situation would seem to dictate that they should do enough to get the sale and move on.  Yes, customer service would help build loyalty but pricing lowered by lesser quality would compete against this benefit.

We come to the conclusion that they are magicians first and Magic dealers’ second.  They promote our Art and care about their customers because they want to put out the best quality effects and follow up with customers because they care about their customers’ use of the products.

They don’t need to but they do.

We are thankful that they do but we are not above taking bribes for endorsements.  Perhaps that’s the difference between us and them.  Fortunately in the last 25 years of this site’s existence, we’ve never had to face that dilemma.

 

Triple TUC is Great Coin Magic

Inside Magic Image of Triple TUCWe, like most right-thinking people, open the box in which came a trick ordered and awaited, ripping through the straw, tossing the invoice and cutting open the plastic with our color-changing knives (red one, of course).  We don’t review the instructions, we just look at the props.  That’s all.

We play with them, examine them for quality control and then try to recreate what we saw in the advertisements.  It is only when the trick cannot be done exactly as seen in the short, well-edited video, that we give in and read the instructions  – or watch the instructional video at the handy  link found on the paper we tossed earlier.

The Triple T.U.C. Coin(s) from Tango Magic, is a trick that matched this experience exactly.  It wasn’t until days of playing with the gimmicks that we realized we were supplied with not one very clever coin but with three.  That’s how well it is made and how hopeless we would be as an archaeologist.

We’d find a bone, maybe a real big one, and declare to the world, “look we found something that someone probably ate; maybe at a prehistoric restaurant like in a cartoon documentary we saw when we were young.”

We would also fail as a surgeon but the reasons for this failure proved difficult to describe without making us throw-up a little in our mouth.  So trust us.

The T.U.C. coin does everything you could want it to do.  Matrix – got it.  Three Fly – no sweat.  Coins Across – are you kidding us?

The machining put into the gimmick(s) is/are so good that we want to reveal it to you because we like you and want you to like us but that’s not how magic works.  We keep secrets at Inside Magic. In fact, we don’t even know where the bathroom is in our spacious office because our staff is so well-trained in the doctrine of secrecy.

We received T.U.C. coin(s) last year but were in no shape to figure it out.  Our brain was occupied with other notions and concepts destined, we thought, to get a MacArthur Genius Grant — that’s how delusional we were at the time.  We saw things that weren’t there, heard voices that weren’t spoken and believed “rubbing dirt on it” would cure most athletic injuries (or snow in the case of skiing or snowboarding).

But now we have many of our faculties back and our senses are relatively restored thanks to boarder crossings to purchase necessary equipment and ointments.  It’s true that one sense fails, the others take on extra importance.  We now have fingertip control with the precision we have always sought.  We can deal seconds like its nobody’s business (whatever that means – we cannot imagine a business plan getting funding for such a project).  But we still lack one of the most important senses, common sense.

Is there a chance that we will perform Three Fly or the Matrix in our routine we have not changed since 1974.  Likely not.  But if asked to perform a new trick, we will likely have a go (an “English” way of saying “we will try”) at performing the Matrix because it is so darn pretty with the T.U.C. package.

This is not a cheap trick but the type of engineering required to make it likely  not inexpensive (that’s a scholar’s way of saying “it cost a lot”) and that’s okay.  It means fewer will own this FISM Award Winning effect.  That makes us special and unique (which is a lazy editor’s way of saying “special” or “unique”).

Visit Tango Magic this very instant to check out the T.U.C. coins in different denominations.  We assume that means the denominations of the coins and not their religious affiliations.

Inside Magic Review – Five out of Five Stars!

Lance Burton Nails It

Inside Magic Image of Lance Burton, Master MagicianWe just got back from Indio, California and boy are our arms tired.

That joke doesn’t work unless one has flown back from the location in the first part of the joke but it is applicable in this case because we could not stop applauding like one of those monkeys that crash cymbals together until their battery wears out.

Our battery didn’t wear out until we got to our valet to drop off the car at our spacious Beverly Hills residence.  The valet, known as Officer Mike, always helps us out of our car when we return because he thinks that protects the public in some way.  Perhaps he is right.  Also, perhaps he has the authority of the State of California to enforce his decisions and respect that authority.

Officer Mike said, “Stop clapping.”

We said, “Oh, are we still doing that?”

Officer Mike said, “Stop asking stupid rhetorical questions and get out of the car.”

Officer Mike was concerned because he felt it would be difficult to drive our vehicle while clapping so vociferously or at all.

In hindsight he was probably right.

We were clapping because we went to see the Lance Burton show.  It was fantastic.

But it wasn’t just Lance Burton; it was Lance Burton and Friends.  And what friends he has.  Fielding West and Keith West performed magic as well. They were incredible as one would expect (and we are the “one” in that sentence even though we speak in the third-person).

We have never seen Mr. Burton more relaxed in his presentation and work with the audience.  He is always great with kids and this show was over the top.  He asked for “four or five” kids to join him on stage for the Vanishing Birdcage and was soon sharing the platform with closer to twenty-five kids; many of whom helped to hold the soon to be disappearing bird cage right before their astonished eyes.

There are great magic show and then there are shows that one will never forget.  This was the latter.  As he travels with his friends, make the trip to see him.  You will thank yourself and perhaps think fondly of us for urging you to go.

A Trick that Fooled Us

lil fobWe are magicians through and through. The FOB caused serious damage to us. We’re no Penn & Teller although we refer to our self in the third-person.  But we love to be fooled and fooled horribly.  The kind of fooled where we can’t see straight from the headache that comes on almost  instantly, interrupted by the need to catch or absorb our slobber.

We stamp on the ground like a baffled horse — which was our 22:1  the pick in the Oaks Classic at Churchill Downs the day before the 1999 Kentucky Derby.  It was an all filly race and we figured we had the inside track.  We had a dream that day that the Number 7 was rubbing our back with a light oil (scentless), we woke at 7:07 am, we caught the 777 bus to Churchill downs, found Baffled Horse was the 7th horse in the 7th race and put $777 on the nose.  We watch the race with a certain sense of satisfaction to find that our pick game in 7th.  So even though we didn’t win, it was significant to us and taught  us to not sleep or if we do sleep, not to enter into REM states of sleep where dreams can occur.  We have switched to coffee in large amounts.  We go to 12 step meetings just to get the free coffee and cigs.  We never even smoke cigs, we just light them in a cool manner and blow the smoke out through the cigarette and then toss the flaming stick on the ground with the assured throw once would see in 1940s movies.

But we digress.

What’s new?

We love this trick.  It fooled us so badly.  We were sitting with friends outside the Magic Castle one night an a young man asked if he could show us a trick.  He was smoking a cigarette but really smoking it.  It was as if he wanted the smoke to go into his lungs.  He still had the cool toss and the smelly fingers but he was taking smoking to a whole new and likely unsafe level.  We don’t know if there has been any research on the effects of taking tobacco smoke into your lungs but it seems like something they should look at it.  Maybe the big tobacco companies could look into it since they would seem to have the most data.

He performed the trick and I could find no explanation.  None.  Now I learn that it can be bought here at MJM Magic.  Check it out and see if doesn’t make you drool.

Magicians of a “Certain Age” and Dry Hands

Inside Magic Image of Frustrated MagicianAs we type, Los Angeles is going through a humid spell. Some accounts have it as high as 70 percent or as low as 50 percent – but either of those extremes is extreme for the region.

Yes, it will mess with our fancy hair-do but it will also let us deal seconds without the need for moistening agents.

When we were very young, we found it amusing that the older magicians in our local IBM Ring had to lick their fingers before every difficult card move. Some had to lick their fingers before even dealing cards. We thought – basking in our youthful ignorance – “we’ll never be like that. We will always have moist fingers and palms. And even if we do eventually have dry hands, we’ll hire someone to lick our fingers.”

We had some issues back then – but lack of hand moisture was not one of them.

Once we hit mid-life, our ability to deal seconds fell off horribly. We could still do the mechanical part but we couldn’t control the number of cards in play.

We thought there should be some product available to magicians of “a certain age” to allow them to again perform as they did in their youth. Something so they would be “ready” when the “moment was right.”

We used those terms in our Google search but it resulted in products that had little to do with card manipulation or magic in its strictest sense.

We asked our magic friends – in strictest confidence, because of our shame – and hoped they would either have a solution or sympathy for our frustration. But we found no support among our peers. We suspect they were too embarrassed to admit their problem to us.

At an IBM convention, we met up with Mr. Second Deal, Simon Lovell. He wrote the book on the sleight — Second to None. We asked him how we could keep our fingers moist enough to do second deals – either double push-off or strike second deal. He felt our pain. He suggested we keep an iced drink nearby and touch it as needed. We thanked him and went forward to find a different solution.

We spoke with our physician and he expressed surprise. “Why, no one has ever asked me how to make their hands more sweaty.” As we recall the exchange, he sounded like the Wizard of Oz in the final scene when he provides a heart for The Tin Woodsman.

Continue reading “Magicians of a “Certain Age” and Dry Hands”

Inside Magic Review of Honeybee Playing Cards

Honeybee Elite Playing CardsAny deck of playing cards are magic cards and if there is one thing we love it is cards.

In the 12 decades we’ve been performing, we have always used cards.  For the first part of our career, when we were young and impetuous (assuming impetuous means what we think it means), and we are reluctant to admit this but know we are among friends, we even used bridge dimensioned decks with borders and kitties.  We don’t mean that the cards had borders or kitties necessarily but that we would perform tricks for animals and residents at our mother’s boarding house in the little town that would one day become Mystic Hollow.

As the Apostle Paul said not about playing cards, “we have put aside childish things.”

On March 15, 1972, we switched to one brand and size and quality.  We made the move to Bee Playing Cards made by the U.S. Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.  At that time, we only knew of Bee deck in the larger “Poker” size and dimension.  They were larger in width and height than the childish “Bridge” deck we had been using.  The also lacked a border.  The beautiful diamond pattern ran up to and past the edges of the card’s back.  Yes, they were a devil to mark (or to read the markings later) but they were so smooth, so wonderful.  We found that our lifelong struggle with dealing seconds seemed to ease.  No border and smooth with great, long-lasting cardstock made for a perfect deck.

Continue reading “Inside Magic Review of Honeybee Playing Cards”

Magician Matt Vizio is Different

Matt VizioFirst published in 2018 but still accurate.  Matt is amazing.

How is magician Matt Vizio different than other magicians?

We watched him tonight at the Peller Theatre at the Magic Castle and sensed something was different than others we had seen in the same venue over the years.  Somehow, he was different, better than those we have seen before.

We learned more about what made him different after the show when we discovered the front row consisted of people who did not speak English all that well.  Actually, it appeared they did not speak English beyond a few polite phrases.

Mr. Vizio is an accomplished magician and stand-up comedian and one of those two talent sets require the ability to communicate effectively with the audience generally and with the volunteers specifically.  So what would he do?  How do you do a Confabulation routine if your volunteer doesn’t speak the language of the routine?

If it had been us, we would have just plowed along hoping to get some words we could use.  But then again, we are not Mr. Vizio.

He was able to change his act immediately and present a parlor show using volunteers from the audience (2 out of 3) who didn’t use English as a primary language. He did it with class and kindness and though he knew they could not understand him, he performed with them as perfect partners in a very entertaining act.

It was an act different in content than what he had planned but no one noticed.  Not even our trained eyes saw that he was changing his presentation to meet the situation.

We supposed that all true professionals of our Art could do the same.  But the fact that we have seen it so rarely happen demonstrated how few true professionals there are in our Art.

We have seen alleged professionals lose their temper, curse, and call the audience volunteer a liar as a trick goes wrong. And these performers are the putative top of our pack.

But Mr. Vizio didn’t need to attack the volunteers. He worked with them, silently when necessary, to perform effects he thought or hoped might work in that situation.  And last night, at one particular show, he was correct.  It is a small sample size – one show – but we bet he would succeed in a similar situation virtually every time.  He is focused, polite and clearly involved with his audience.

Mr. Vizio is professional to the core, never embarrassing his volunteers specifically or the audience generally, but always ready to craft the show to meet the audience on their terms.

We could talk about the tricks he performed but they may be different from those you see when you visit the Peller Theatre this week. The magic you will see is all Mr. Vizio.

Inside Magic Rating: Five out of Five. Our Highest.

Check out Mr. Vizio’s website herehttp://mattvizio.com

Magician and Teacher Jay Sankey Rocks

 

This will seem like more like an endorsement than Magic News.  And it is an endorsement but not paid or even asked for by Jay Sankey.

Mr. Sankey has released, by our last count, a billion or more effects on the market and has very effective email and Twitter campaigns.  It could be that he also is in Instasnap, Facegroup or the other sites the kids use to share important selfies and ponderings about their selfies but we don’t have accounts on those services because we are very old – at least over 24 – and so are, as the kids say, “not down with them.”

We could have written this endorsement and fanboy tract at any time but we were struck by the beauty of a force taught for free by Mr. Sankey last night.  You can see it for yourself here.  We had never considered the very simple move taught but will now use it frequently.

The force taught is like most of the things offered by Mr. Sankey: easy to perform, effective and highly commercial.  We know he lectures like no other from our personal attendance at several of his teaching sessions over the years.  His prices are fair; maybe even a little low for the volume of effects and moves you receive.  His instructions are clear; even we can understand and use them with relatively little practice time.  Keep in mind that it took us 30 years to learn how to effectively perform a push-off second deal and we still cannot perform a pressure fan – much to our embarrassment and shame amongst the professionals with whom we associate.

If you haven’t heard of Mr. Sankey, it could be that you are new to magic or don’t have friends in magic or have never used the internet to look up “magic.”  That doesn’t make you a bad person – there may be other things that could be the basis for such an accusation about your character.  Perhaps you cut in line, make questionably shaped balloon animals for your own private enjoyment, or copy DVDs purchased by others.  But we assume readers of Inside Magic are good people.  The kind who would never do such things.  We also assume readers of Inside Magic understand we often stray from our main topic and do not have our text properly reviewed by a team of editors to remove such strayings.  For instance, we don’t even thing “strayings” is a word but our editor quit over a wage dispute.  She wanted to be paid for her work and would not accept our promise to pay when we sold the insidemagic.com domain.

Anyway, back to Mr. Sankey.  We have attended lectures where he spent extra time to help the slow among the audience – primarily us – to learn his effects even though the tricks were not ones he was selling.  He just did it because … well, we don’t know why.  Perhaps he likes to teach magic.  As a community, magicians are fortunate that this is his motive.  He does it well and often.

You can check out his site here.  You can learn the force we mentioned by going here.

Mr. Sankey didn’t ask us to write this and certainly didn’t pay us – otherwise we would still have our editor.

Jay Sankey is an official Inside Magic Favorite.

Nick Lewin’s Ultimate Color Changing Deck

Nick Lewin's Ultimate Color Changing DeckWe first met Nick Lewin through Pop Haydn when Mr. Lewin was performing on the same bill with Mr. Haydn.  To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect.  Mr. Lewin took the stage with a befuddled look on his face and seemed to be overly relaxed in his approach to the magic.  Yet, he blew us away.

His Slow Motion Torn and Restored Newspaper was a thing of beauty, his Linking Finger Ring was a thing of beauty as well but also a thing of mystery.  We know or thought we knew how the routine should be done to achieve the effect but Mr. Lewin was doing something slightly different and yet achieving the same effect plus.

Since that experience, we have seen Mr. Lewin perform in various locals and he is the same.  Always smiling, slightly  befuddled, easy-going, and amazing.  He has the classics of magic finely tuned from years of practice and actual performances in his hands and is in no rush to perform them.

He is not being chased and so there is no need to run.  His jokes and humorous approach to the effects do not overwhelm or take away from the magic, they fit in the routines because there is time for them to fit.  He is going to amaze and there is no reason to rush to what will be a wonderful conclusion – he is a friend of the audience and we are all looking at it together.

We have bought several of Mr. Lewin’s routines and we will have reviews in the future but we received one just the other day that seemed perfect for our act – at least according to the advertisement.  The Ultimate Color Changing Deck is an effect that would be the right ending for our card routine as performed in the basement of the Magic Castle.  We currently end with the emotional equivalent of “Yeah, that’s about it.  No need to stick around, there ain’t no more.  Skat! Get!”

We order the effect and received delivery within a very few days.  We watched his DVD, checked out the props and smiled with the gleeful look of a very satisfied magician or someone in need of further attention by trained professionals.  It would work, it would work really good.  (When we become gleeful, annoyingly gleeful (“AG”), we lose our ability to think in proper English.  The effect could even be transferred to our pet deck and we already could do the relatively easy sleights to accomplish the apparently impossible.

There are other color changing decks on the market.  Some of them might be good.  We have seen many of them in person either being performed or explained in lectures but none of them come up to this standard.  Mr. Lewin credits Ken Brooke for the idea and effect and even provides an interlude that may or may not fit your style.  The last sentence makes sense once you receive and review the effect.

The cost for the pre-release is $65.00 and it is well-worth it.  This is a color changing deck that will really work in real situations for real magicians in front of real audiences and leave them really amazed.

Check out Mr. Lewin’s site today.  We do not know how long the deal will be available on the Ultimate Color Changing Deck he is offering so it is best to get there as soon as possible.  Go! Get! Skat!

Inside Magic Review: Five Out of Five – Our Highest!

Magician Arthur Trace Comes to Venice California

Inside Magic Favorite Arthur TraceArthur Trace is an Inside Magic Favorite Magician from our hometown of Chicago.  That should be enough for this article: a complete endorsement of Mr. Trace and description of his background as well as his particular talent.  But we feel something stirring deep in our soul to share more about him and his upcoming one-man show in Venice, California.

Mr. Trace, as our social media team wrote last night on Twitter (@insidemagic), is to “magic what magic is to life.”  It is so true.  His magic transcends tricks or even sophisticated manipulation – both of which are contained in his act.  To watch Mr. Trace perform is similar to watching a tightrope walker.  As a magician, we worry about other magicians when they perform magic requiring incredible skills – we don’t want them to fail or fall.  We have seen Mr. Trace walk that taut wire many times and he has never fallen to the magic equivalent of a horrible true finale.  He does not even come close.  His skill set is so highly developed that there is no risk of failure; only entertainment and complete entertainment at that.

He is a delightful person and deserving of the fame he has received and continues to receive.  It says quite a lot about someone who is beloved by the public viewers of an act as well as his fellow performers with whom he spends times between shows.

If you are in Southern California or can get here by September 15th, do make reservations to see a true Magic Genius at the cozy Electric Lodge Theater.

Mr. Trace’s advertisement provides some clues as to what you will experience:

What would you do if you could stop time?  Arthur will show you what he would do, and the outcome is funny and surprising.

An “invisible bee” that’s brought to life

Arthur will transform a piece of rope into a magical violin.

A long-distance call via a tin-can phone – the result is unexpected.

An interactive painting that is transformed through sleight of hand.

Mr. Trace is only the eighth magician in the history of magic to be awarded The International Brotherhood of Magicians Gold Medal and has appeared on Masters of Illusion and Penn & Teller: Fool Us.

Tickets are limited and priced well below what we would pay to see this 70-minute show – and we are notoriously cheap.  General Admission is $40.00 and tickets to the Front Row are $55.00.

Please read all the details about the show and Mr. Trace here: https://arthurtrace.com/the-artful-deceiver.