Do you realize how many publications have popped up lately dealing with the peek? Well, when in Rome…

I think I’ve decided to jump into the “peek book” fray and write one myself. But I decided to approach this from a completely different angle: The Rock & Roll Peek Technique. I think I’ll call it Aldo Novus.

Film at eleven.

The hard way.

Q: Who does Uri Geller say he is?

Does he say he’s a magician? A mentalist? A psychic?

I think it’s pretty universal in our corner of the world to accept that Geller uses the same techniques and methods magicians and mentalists do. And for many, many years some people, for various reasons, have done their best to expose Geller as a fraud — as someone who is no different than any great magician.

Guess what? For the most part, people don’t care. But the bigger question is, why? Why is Uri Geller still an entertainment force majeure? Why don’t “normal people” refer to Geller as a magician or a mentalist? And who does Geller claim he is?

Many magicians tend to be hypercritical (i.e. myopic) about the success of another performer in the same way they are myopic about their own act. It’s the “missing the forest for the trees” syndrome, and it’s rarely an attractive thing to watch.

I still see the same critical remarks about David Blaine years later: “he’s not a great magician,” “there are plenty of magicians who are better than Blaine,” “slum magic blah bah blah,” etc. The issue I have with that is these people are not considering the package — the entire act. Here’s a news flash for you: the act got on television a number of times, not Gene Gordon’s “biting a quarter” trick.

Criss Angel is not an overnight success. The Penn & Teller act was not overnight success. David Copperfield was not an overnight success. In all three examples, the end result — success — is made up of tons of intrinsic parts, and years of hard work. To dismiss any of these people because “X is a better magician” or “it’s who you know” is so absurd I have a hard time even addressing the comments.

There was a thread of conversation recently on The Magic Cafe about Criss Angel’s radio interview with Penn Jillette. In part, speaking of contemporary magic and magicians, Angel stated:

“…most magicians present it in a really hokey, cheesey way…”

He went on to say:

“…these other guys are like sitting there doing the same old nonsense that’s been done for like, you know, it’s a zillion years, and it doesn’t really present itself in a fresh way.”

It’s so much easier to do Don Alan’s “Invisible Deck” routine verbatim, rather than study the Ultra Mental deck and what it actually does and build a great, original routine that uses it in a new way. Is there anything wrong with doing the Alan routine word for word from the instruction sheet? Although my knee-jerk reaction is to recoil from the very idea, I have to admit that, in the long run, I’d say less damage is done to magic by performing the trick with a proven, sure-fire routine than some off-the-wall, bizarre (in a bad way) presentation that gives the 21 Card Trick competition. “All magicians do the same tricks” is the lesser of two evils. Whit Haydn has stated often that learning a trick word for word is a great way to learn magic; get comfortable with what works, then put your personality and presentation into it.

Similarly, it’s much easier to say, “Hold out your hand. No the clean one. Oh, that was the clean one.” and get the easy laugh, rather than spend a few days coming up with a great, original line. Great comedy is not easy, even for the guys who make it look easy. Nicking someone’s funny line is not a good thing on so many levels. I have asked (and received) from their originators permission to use two really funny lines. (From Eric DeCamps and Rich Marotta for those keeping score.) But I never felt completely comfortable using them. (Call it guilt, roots of a long ago abandoned Catholic upbringing. Clearly it’s the gift that keeps on giving.)

When we consider the relative success of Angel and Blaine and Copperfield and P&T, the world of magic isn’t that much different than the world at large: those who achieve great things typically expend massive amounts of effort, and over an extended period of time. But that effort is not the hardest part of success in general; showing up is. Becoming successful and/or famous is not rocket science. Anyone can do it, but not many people will do it.

One aspect of this that seems to go without mention is the very issue of “being famous.” Why do people seek that level of attention? It seems to me to be rooted in one or both of two things: a desire for attention, and wealth.

It always seemed to me that the phrase “rich and famous” is actually backwards. Fame usually precedes rich. Is Criss Angel working harder now than he ever did? I’m not so sure about that. I believe he’s working a lot smarter, and he’s surrounded by a lot more people who are in a position to help him short circuit a lot of wasted effort. In my opinion that’s pretty wise. And I don’t know if anyone would argue that his fame over the last year has affected his bank account.

Not everyone seeks fame, and fortune doesn’t have to mean millions of dollars in the bank. But you get neither fame nor fortune without defining what those words mean, mapping out a course, then working towards it. Or being born a Hilton. (The other “secret” is noticing the results you get while working towards a goal. If something you’re doing isn’t working, you might try doing something different. Einstein was right; the defintion of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Sort of like criticizing Blaine and Angel. )

Woody Allen is variously quoted as saying, “90% of life is just showing up.” Most people want the benefits of success, but aren’t willing to take the first step — literally, take a first step — towards success.

Three frogs were sitting on a log one day. The middle frog suddenly said, “You know what guys? I feel like going for a swim!”

Q: How many frogs were left on the log?
A: Three. The middle frog only said he felt like going for a swim, he didn’t actually dive in.

You can think and ponder and consider and say you are going to do X until the cows come home. But until you take that first step and actually do something, you’re just another frog on a log. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

I suppose the world of magic is not much different than any other art form; its practitioners eat their young at every turn. You can call it jealousy, or misguided attention, or armchair quarterbacking, or whatever you like. But the subject of such attention rarely directly addresses those things, and even more rarely takes part in the discussion at all. Why do you suppose that is?

Oh, yes. One more thing:

A: Uri Geller

Finding the next Siegfried and Roy

I really hate to admit this, but I watch…

No, I can’t do it.

Well, we’re already here, so why not: I watch American Idol. But I watch it only for the articles.

Actually, as far as train-wreck television goes, it’s pretty good. And my involvement in the music industry really fueled my initial interest, but the talent contest (and I use that phrase generously) has all the elements that make up great television. (And that’s coming from someone who hates network and much of cable television programming.)

I’m also happy to announce I am a fan of Simon Cowell. The guy knows the music business, knows a hit, and knows how to surround himself with people to make good television. And now he’s taking the show to Vegas.

Wannabe singing stars on “American Idol” have been known to cringe whenever judge Simon Cowell speaks. Would-be magicians and other Las Vegas-style entertainers could soon become just as nervous if the acid-tongued Cowell finds a judge as outspoken as himself for a new talent competition.

Cowell will create a show for NBC that allows viewers to ultimately decide which performer is rewarded with a headline spot in a Las Vegas show, NBC announced Thursday.

Cowell will executive produce the program but leave the judging to someone else this time.

“Personally, I hope to find the next Siegfried and Roy,” Cowell said of the magicians who were a Las Vegas mainstay for decades.

You don’t have to win in order to benefit. In fact, just auditioning could (not always, but could) provide you with valuable advice just for asking. And actually competing puts you in a professional world on someone else’s dime.

The show starts in the summer. I’m glad I have a Microsoft Media Center Edition computer set up. (Microsoft’s MCE is sort of like a Tivo, except much better. You know, because it’s Microsoft.) Until now I’ve used it exclusively for recording the History Channel and my two favorite soap operas: C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2. No, really.

(Thanks to my friend Venomous Kate for the link!)

Max speaks.

The Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY is “a think-tank affiliated with the State University of New York, and is devoted to promoting science, reason, and freedom of inquiry in every field of human interest.”

Three areas of research include:

    1. Pseudoscience and the paranormal (bigfoot, UFOs, psychics, communication with the dead, cryptozoology, etc.)

    2. Alternative medicine (faith healing, homeopathy, belief in “healing touch,” the efficacy of prayer, etc.)

    3. Religion and secularism (church-state separation, the effects and proper role of religion in society, the future of secularism and nonbelief, etc.)

Interestingly enough, their most recent podcast includes an excellent interview with Max Maven.

From the listing:

In this interview, Max Maven begins an exploration of the relationship between magic and skepticism, and how magicians may aid the skeptical enterprise.

The entire interview segment is about 19 minutes in length and, I think, well worth your time to download and listen. Max brings up a number of points I think mystery entertainers would do well to consider.


I’ve made my plans to be at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dallas, Texas this September 1-4 to attend TAOM2006 – the Texas Association of Magicians’ convention.

Check out this line up:

    Johnny Thompson
    Rene Levand
    Dick Koornwinder
    Rafael Benatar
    Vito Lupo
    John Carney
    Bob White
    Eric Decamps
    Roger Klause
    Mike Caveney
    Jon Armstrong
    Tina Lenert
    Avner The Eccentric
    Scott Cervine
    Dan Rodriguez

Online registration – along with other details on the convention — is up and running at the official TAOM2006 web site.

The Royal Road to Hell.

As a wise man once said,

“You can learn to play golf from me, or you can learn to play golf from Tiger Woods. Trust me, you don’t want to learn to play golf from me.”

This brings to mind the new Magic Makers DVD set based on Hugard & Braue’s seminal text, “The Royal Road to Card Magic.”

Since the sheer brutality of an event early in my card magic learning has worn down to barely an eye twitch (thanks, in part, to years of therapy,) I can safely admit that the first book on cards I ever read and studied was not “Royal Road to Card Magic.” (Please keep your gasps to a dull roar. I’m embarrassed enough as it is.)

It wasn’t one of the Dover books.

It wasn’t even any of the other beginner books on card magic.

No, my beginner text — my primer — on card magic was purchased from Paul Diamond’s table at a magic convention years and years ago. As I stood there holding the thing in my hands, I recall Paul looked at the book, looked at me, looked at the book, and asked me how much card magic did I know. I told him I knew what playing cards were. Paul laughed a hole into the roof, not because of what I said but because of what I meant.

Against his better judgement — and Andi’s shaking her head — he sold me my first book on card magic: “Ever So Sleightly” — a book on the card magic of Martin A. Nash, written by Stephen Minch. It was a “first” book, alright; the first of the Nash Trilogy and certainly not for the novice card guy. (I wasn’t even good enough to be considered a novice, that’s how out of my depth I was.)

After a month or so of trying to learn some of that stuff, I was absolutely convinced I was a functional idiot who didn’t deserve to hold a deck of cards, let alone deign to even consider doing card magic for human beings, for pity’s sake. Still, I soldiered on thinking that if I just practiced that Knock-Out Double Lift enough times, I could actually do it some day before I assumed room temperature. (Which, of course, was true — just as it is with any close-up card move one must practice to perfection.)

However, my second book on card magic was Hugard and Braue’s “Royal Road to Card Magic.” After the total and abject humiliation I experienced from nearly a year of torturing myself with the Nash book, “Royal Road…” was like jumping after taking off ten pound weights you’d had strapped to your legs for the past month.

There, now I feel better for bearing my soul. You can stop laughing now. I mean it, stop.

For most people, though, “Royal Road…” was their introduction to serious card magic. To this day it remains a solid suggestion made to beginners. (Roberto Giobbi’s five-volume set is also a strong suggestion. Giobbi, in my estimation, is the Tarbell course for card magic. Avoid it at your own peril.)

So who were these two fellows who wrote such an important text in the world of magic?

Digitally picking the brain of Michael Edwards via his contributions to Usenet newsgroup alt.magic.history years ago, we learn a number of very interesting things about Jean Hugard. Hugard came into this world December 4, 1871 in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia as John Gerard Rodney Boyce. Professor Hoffman’s translation of Robert-Houdin’s Secrets of Conjuring and Magic was his introduction to magic literature and became his “bible.” Over the course of his life he performed as Oscar Kellmann, Chin Sun Loo, Ching Ling Foo, and Jean Hugarde. He came to the USA in 1916 and subsequently authored 27 books under his own name, and numerous others as a ghost writer.

He died on August 14, 1959 at the age of 87.

Fred Braue’s story is less illuminating. In his book, “Who’s Who in Magic,” Bart Whaley tells us Frederick George Braue was born in 1906, was a newspaper man in Oakland, California; semi-professional magician; specialized in card magic “of which he was a master”; invented the Braue Addition, Braue Reversal, rear palm, and the Homing Card.

Among the books he was author or co-author: “Expert Card Technique” (1940); “Showstoppers With Cards” (1948); and “Braue on False Deals” (1977). He edited Hugard’s Magic Monthly 1959-1962.

And then there’s “Aunt Elsie” at the Oakland Tribune. (I’ll let Pete Biro tell that one here.)

For many people the name “Fred Braue” conjures up the phrase “Braue’s Notebooks” — which are reported to be contained in some one thousand pages written over a thirty year period.

His (in)famous notebooks were to be published in serial form, and it’s reported many subscriptions were sold. Unfortunately, the publisher — who now lives in Idaho and seems to be a few kernels short of a full ear of corn — has found numerous excuses for why the notebooks have never been published as promised.

(For the record, Braue is pronounced BROW-ee.)

He died July 3, 1962.

“Royal Road to Card Magic” was published in 1949 by Faber and Faber Limited of London, England, under the eye of Sir Geoffrey Cust Faber, founder and president of the publishing house (who named the house after himself and was the only Faber in Faber and Faber. Hey, it sounded good.)

It is understatement to say Faber and Faber were not lightweights in the publishing business. Among some of the first authors represented in books published by the house were T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Jean Cocteau, Herbert Read, Max Eastman, George Rylands, John Dover Wilson, Geoffrey Keynes, Forest Reid and Vita Sackville-West. Faber and Faber’s first real commercial success was to become a solid classic, the book, “Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man” — initially printed as an anonymous text, but later attributed to its author, then popular poet Siegfried Sassoon.

Over the years, many other authors were added to the roster of Faber and Faber, including W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Louis MacNeice, Marianne Moore, Wyndham Lewis, John Gould Fletcher, Roy Campbell, James Joyce, Walter de la Mare, William Golding, Lawrence Durrell, Robert Lowell, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, W. S. Graham, Philip Larkin, P. D. James, Tom Stoppard and John Osborne.

In other words, Hugard and Braue’s book — the one so many of us point to as a book that absolutely has to be in the library of every serious student of card magic — was printed and distributed by one of the most prestigious and important publishing houses ever. I think that’s appropriate.

The Preface to the book recounts a story that’s been subsequently repeated (in various forms, using various luminaries):

Many years ago David Devant, the great English conjurer, was approached by an acquaintence new to sleight-of-hand with cards. “Mr. Devant,” said this young man, “I know three hundred tricks with cards. How many do you know?” Devant glanced at the youth quizzically. “I should say,” the magician responded dryly, “that I know about eight.”

Devant was making a point with which all professional magicians are familiar. To perform card tricks entertainingly you must not only know how the tricks are done, but how to do them. There is a vast difference between the two, and if proof were needed, one need only watch the same feat performed by a novice and by an expert card conjurer. The novice knows the mechanics of so many tricks that he cannot do any one feat really well; the professional performs a smaller number of tricks which he knows how to present in such a way as to create the greatest possible impression upon those who watch.

We cannot emphasize too strongly that knowing the secret of a trick is not the same as knowing how to perform that trick; and that knowing the secret of hundreds of tricks is of little value unless each can be performed smoothly and entertainingly. It is far better to know only a few tricks which can be performed with grace, skill and effect.

In writing this book, we have attempted to teach you card tricks which may be performed anywhere, at any time, under any circumstances, for any company, and using any pack of cards. You will not need “trick” packs of cards, nor special cards, nor expensive accessories. This is most important, for it means that no matter where you may be, you need only borrow a deck of cards when called upon to entertain; the ability to amuse and interest will be literally at your finger tips.

I’ve just written an awful lot about an old book, some editions of which have fallen into public domain. But if you’ve gotten this far, you should have some sense of reverence this book should instill when it is mentioned. “Royal Road…” is an important book written by two important authors, the contributions of whom have impacted magic — and particularly card magic — to a degree no one can estimate. In fact, let’s just agree to use the word “inestimable.”

It is with that expectation of respect and reverence that one should see in a project bringing the book to the television screen. So many magicians were both delighted and excited by news a couple of years ago that R. Paul Wilson was the fellow to put together the work in front of the camera to bring to life the work of Hugard and Braue.

(I generally refrain from quoting exceptionally long excerpts, but I want to place as much relevant material in one place as possible. Please visit the links for entire passages.)

Of the original Royal Road DVD project, R. Paul Wilson recently notes:

Royal Road was shot in 2002 and has been delayed until this year when it was finished by L&L Publishing to their excellent standards. We have spent the last six months getting it into shape and it is common knowledge on the net that this project is pending.

When we shot this I, Tim Trono, Mark Murphy and our crew went to great lenghts to produce a quality product that would teach the student how to be an excellent card magician.

We followed the format of the course, taught the material but I also addressed the problems that I felt dated the course and added ideas that greatly improved the material. We added three effects – one of my own (using a Pass, a Top Change and a Palm under misdirection), one of Dai Vernon’s (one of the best Card Tricks ever invented) and a Roy Walton trick that helps teach the Pass beautifully (none of the tricks in the book really utilize the pass properly, IMO).

Many of today’s finest magicians added words of advice to the course so students would understand something more about card magic than just moves and tricks. It’s been a hard path but it’s paying off with a course that WILL teach you how to perform excellent sleight of hand card magic.

Before setting out, I learned that a calm, steady presentation, without hyperbole, makes for the most productive style of video instruction so I applied this to Royal Road. I sincerely believe that if the student watches each lesson and learns the material before moving on (without skipping ahead) they will develop a much better understanding of card magic.

The also included words of advice from some of the biggest names in magic. We weren’t just “putting the book on video” but really trying to create a home-study course that would really deliver.

The idea was to apply my knowledge and experience to the course and act as a guide to the student, helping them avoid the pitfalls and offering improvements where necessary.

Wilson also notes:

I demonstrate and teach everything in the book but I stress from the outset that the student should try to learn from the book too.

The project was announced a long time ago. Wilson subsequently announced in late 2002 that the DVD project was entering post-production. (I’m guessing no one knew how long the gestation period would actually become.) On December 16, 2002 Wilson stated:

“The DVDs are about to enter post production. This is more than a matter of editing. We have gathered valuable advice from magicians around the world for the novice magician to learn from and the seasoned professionals to consider. I am also hoping to have bios of several important card conjurors on each disc. this will show those new to card magic that there is a rich history behind the book and help them, hopefully, to appreciate their work, which is represented within Royal Road.”

Reverence. Attention to detail. Respect befitting a work as important as “Royal Road…” L&L Publishing is producing the set of DVDs. Louis Falanga’s reputation for quality preceeds him. I think Wilson’s work is in appropriate hands and I can’t wait for the set to become available.

On the other hand, for whatever reason, evidently and unfortunately Magic Makers appears to have hastily cobbled together a set of DVDs using the name “Royal Road to Card Magic” as its title — perhaps in hopes to trump L & L Publishing’s pending release later this year. In the introduction to the set, as well as in the advertising copy, the set purports to be a card course based on the book.

However, from viewing the sample clips from the Magic Makers website — replete with poorly scripted patter and absolutely ghastly camera work — these words from Jo Galloway in A Few Good Men come immediately to mind:

“But my feeling is that if this case is handled in the same fast-food, slick-ass Persian Bazaar manner with which you seem to handle everything else, something’s gonna get missed.”

And it’s evident more than “something” was missed. If these clips are a fair representation of the quality of the set — and one would expect so, as these are the ones chosen for the web site — it appears to me these videos would find a better home on one of the many web sites maintained by amateur magicians who collect and offer for download free “homemade” videos.

When I consider the obvious care and love and respect shown the DVD project shot by Wilson and being put together now by Louis Falanga and his staff at L&L, Magic Maker’s version seems to me to be like a false-eyelashed, Hollywood wig wearing, uneven brothel-red lipsticked, cheap-perfumed whore. (To be fair, of course, I recognize some people prefer the quick convenience of a hooker to real love. Different strokes, and all of that.)

On the one hand, we have the hard work of real professional magicians working hand in hand with real professional videographers, scripting, taping, editing and producing a work that everyone I’ve spoken with expects to have a right to stand next to a work like “Royal Road to Card Magic” — and on the other hand we have Magic Makers’ version.

So, I guess the question now is, “From whom do you want to learn to play golf?”

Shell shocked.

Holy cow.

Usually when I get interested in a subject, I have a tendency to jump in the deep end of the pool, both feet first, without bothering to get nekkid. I’ve long been of the opinion that swimming in a subject and getting totally immersed was the best way to quickly get a set of bearings. Not that I would always take the right direction, naturally, but at least I had a few choices on the old compass.

I have officially been bitten by the three shell game bug.

I don’t know why. And I don’t know why now. I just know I have and the itch is…significant.

As a result, I have been doing my best to swim in three-shelldom. So far, the easiest thing has been to eliminate one particular set of shells (and if you have to ask by whom, go straight to the blackboard and write one hundred times, “I shall not support flightless birds.”)

Truth be told, Frank Garcia is ultimately responsible for causing this ruckus in a telephone conversation a long, long time ago. It was an off-handed remark he made having nothing to do with the reason I called him, but every time I saw or heard “three shell game” I heard Frank’s voice in my head.

So tonight/this morning I’m thinking of Frank again. Ultimately, I think, I’ll be greatful for him planting the bug because it is obvious to me that proponents of the three shell game revere the con like nobody’s business. And I can easily see me numbered in with them.

So is this, the first blog post of the new year, a resolution to learn and perform the three shell game? No, I think that decision was made last night. But right now I’m tuckered out from searching. I do have a pretty good idea who I need to talk to, though.

Film at eleven.

Getting Closer.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why I like Michael Close’s magic so much. This was, primarily, for those of you who haven’t taken the time to make yourself familiar with his magic, since anyone who has crossed paths with Close’s magic probably found my praise akin to watching reruns of M.A.S.H.

Recently, Close announced the release of his handling of the torn and restored card trick called, “Close’s Torn & Restored Card.” In a telephone conversation with my friend Jim Sisti the same day we both received the email, it seemed there was going to be a race to see which of us purchased the ebook.

Since I have a blog and he doesn’t, I hereby announce I won the race.

One thing you’ll notice about Close’s stuff — and the entire Workers series is the poster child for this comment — is that so much thought has been put into the handling, as well as the trick itself. It’s Michael’s never ending desire to improve that caused the latest version of the Workers series to be annotated to such an extent that even owners of the printed copies would do well to buy the download.

There are plenty of torn and restored card routines. A few of them are even outstanding in their field. “The Reformation” by Guy Hollingworth set the close-up world on fire a few years ago. Guy was a featured performer in 1996’s television special “World’s Greatest Magic III” — one of Gary Oulette’s productions. The presentation of this T&R routine was just…pretty. And pretty stunning. And elegant. And how in the heck did he do that?

I wasn’t one of the lucky few to buy an original copy of Hollingworth’s VHS tape explaining “The Reformation” — which was limited in production, and came with the promise that once they were sold there would be no more.

And, true to his word, there were no more.

Well, there were no more original tapes produced. There were plenty of bootlegs, though. The more people talked about it, the more demand for the tape grew, and, given the limited supply, some people just couldn’t help themselves. Pity.

Eventually, though, enough years passed and Guy included the workings of the trick as the Epilogue to his outstanding book, “Drawing Room Deceptions.” It took thirty-six pages to describe and explain the trick. THIRTY-SIX PAGES. Thirty. Six. Pages. Then the rest of us learned why so few people actually performed Hollingworth’s version. It was clever, alright, but…fiddly. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It was just involved. Too involved for my tastes, anyway.

“Ultimate Rip Off” by Paul Harris was what got me interested in tearing up a playing card and putting it back together. But I cast my lot with J.C. Wagner’s T&R routine (found in 7 Secrets) as the best for me. (It was also the impetus for Hollingworth’s routine.)

Turns out, both Harris’s and Wagner’s routines served as the impetus for Michael Close’s 25 year process that turned out the $12.95 ebook download, Close’s Torn & Restored Card.

So what did Close accomplish by working on this for 25 years? Well, for starters, how about a rational reason for tearing up the card to begin with? We magicians often launch into a routine using tenuous reasons for why we are about to do what we are about to do. Audiences aren’t stupid and, while they are likely to cut us a break for providing weak (at best) excuses for doing “X” if there’s a magical moment to follow, we demonstrate a level of respect for audiences when we go further and tie it up in a pretty package.

What else? Michael notes, “In addition, the presentation solves one of the big “bugaboo” problems associated with this type of trick.” Here he doesn’t explain what this is, and it’s not evident in the video clip, but take my word for it: this alone is worth the $13.

If that weren’t enough, Michael teaches you his handling of this trick. The only thing I can say about this is it is obvious he’s done this trick a lot. There are no superfluous moves, nothing you have to do that isn’t reasoned out and necessary. Necessary — what a great word in routining a close-up trick. This, too, is worth $13 by itself.

Like other Close ebooks (most notably Closely Guarded Secrets) there are video clips embedded in the file that allow you to view a performance, as well as segments that go far in supplementing the text.

Don’t already do a torn and restored card routine? I can’t imagine a good reason to not pop the very reasonable $12.95 for this thing. Decide how much 25 years of your life is worth and then ask if $12.95 is a deal.

What if you’re one of us who loves and performs the JC Wagner version? Do yourself a favor and pop for this ebook right now. As great as the Wagner routine is, this polishes it up and gives you good reason to do the entire routine, down to handing them the card when you’re done.

The Protocols of Selling the Protocols Book

I’ve been watching the feeding frenzy that found expression in eBay auctions wherein sellers are offering up copies of the Max Maven book, “The Protocols of the Elders of Magic,” at prices ranging from the truly sublime, to the truly — and I mean truly — fantastic.

After tabulating the results, I find that the “Grand Prize” (such as it is) goes to Internet magic shop owner and “Cheating at Hold’em” author, David Malek, who handily sold five copies at twice the original price:

November 30, 2005 $100
December 1, 2005 $100
December 1, 2005 $100
December 1, 2005 $100
December 2, 2005 $100

Now, there are those who might suggest Malek is “just doing good business” — buy low, sell high, the American Way. And what do I know? Maybe the buyers are perfectly happy with the $100 they each spent on the book. I hear people are initially and literally ecstatic with some of the purchases they make in Pahrump, NV, too.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum we find eBay ID “a.messenger” who sold a copy at a “Buy It Now” price of just $60. (Apparently this seller didn’t attend the same business school as did Malek.)

The Most Amusing award goes to Brian Glicker and his auction with a “Buy It Now” price of $150. He apparently wasn’t convinced by my answer to his wondering regarding what’d he’d bought.

Q: Don’t bragging rights count for anything any more?
A: Yes. Apparently they go for about $150 these days.

Clearly, the Most Ambitious award goes to “New York Comedy Stage Hypnotist” Sebastion Black for attempting a drive-by “Buy It Now” of $355. A subsequent auction yielded $136.26 from one of my favorite members of the mystery entertainment community.

While not an auction, I want to mention fellow guitar picker Jon Elion, who sold his copy of “The Protocols of the Elders of Magic” for precisely what he paid: $50

Interestingly enough, I’m still getting the occasional email accusing me of all sorts of un-American Way things because of publicly noting my opinion of some people purchasing multiple copies of the book to resell. If these people won’t read the plain language I’ve already used to describe what I meant, I’m not going to spend additional valuable time restating it using only one- and two-syllable words. “Do what thou wilt” is the hole of the law, that’s for sure.

My copy is on my bookshelf. It’s another of my talisman books, a concept I’ll explain some day soon.

Blaine in Fort Sam Houston

First a bit of the story:

International man of mystery, David Blaine, stopped by Brooke Army Medical Center here Nov. 22 to perform “street magic” for the wounded warriors recovering at the hospital.

Blaine performed three shows at the center – in the Amputee Care Center, the Burn Center and the hospital auditorium – for different groups of patients.

A little further down:

Blaine is often called the “Ice Guy” – after freezing himself in a solid block of ice for three days in 2000. One center patient from New York, Marine Cpl. Merlin German, remembered watching Blaine as he emerged from the ice block in Times Square. Now recovering from burns sustained in the global war on terrorism, German was pleased Blaine took the time to come see the wounded.

“He was very inspiring to me,” German said, adding that Blaine, who invited him and his parents to a show in New York after he recovers, now sees him as a friend.

After his Nov. 22 shows, Blaine said he was so moved by the wounded troops that he returned Nov. 23 and 25 to personally visit with them.

That’s an article from DefenseLink, the web news arm of the United States Department of Defense. Note, it is not from AP, Reuters, PROnline, etc. (I thought that was worth noting.)