Eric Mead Reviews

Discuss the views of your favorite Genii columnists.

Postby Guest » 07/23/06 09:50 AM

I really enjoyed Mr. Mead's book reviews in the August issue of Genii. The aspect of the reviews that fascinated me (okay, I don't get out much) was his take on the derivative nature of Mike Powers routines in "Power Plays".

Do all newly published routines that use the classics as a starting point have to "represent advancement in either the effect or the method?"

Mr. Mead calls the kind of routines that might have a new plot twist but not necessarily original "session tricks." They're interesting and special, but not necessarily effective.

I'm not a professional magician. I love session tricks (derivative and Paul Gordon comes to mind, but hey, I love Paul's stuff). Many times they step down the difficult sleights that this old-timer does badly or can't do at all. This way I can pretend to be a pale imitation of Mr. Jennings or Mr. Vernon, or whomever.

I thought he was a little harsh on Mr. Powers' new book. And yet, in Andrew Galloway's book (Diverting Coin Magic), he praises Mr. Galloway for his focusing on classic methods with clarity of effect. The simplified versions puts the difficult routines within reach of the intermediate coin man.

Food for thought. Thanks, Mr. Mead. But it's going to be hard to give up all those Aces changing to Kings and those kickers. ;)

Sam
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/23/06 10:30 AM

Some books of variations are good, like Frank Garcia's "Super Subtle Card Miracles" and "Million Dollar Card Secrets." We can all agree that those are good.

Some books of variations are bad, and it's less easy to agree about those because there are personal requirements involved.

It depends on your skill level, performance needs, and overall interest in the field. Variations that are useful for some will be useless for others.

The Mike Powers book has received very good reviews in two other magazines, which doesn't surprise me because I know that there are people who will enjoy the book. (I haven't read it, so have no opinion.)

It's always wise to keep in mind that reviewers (and, indeed, each of us) have different standards than one another.

As far as books with variations go, I think you'll all find the upcoming Mr. Jennings Takes It Easy to be enjoyable because Jennings varies his own tricks as well as those of others in order to make them easier to do. (This is exactly the opposite of what Jennings was often accused of, which was making his tricks more difficult than necessary.) Larry recognized that not everyone can do a trick that involves several Palms, several Passes, and a cull. He was anything but a sleight-of-hand snob. How will the book be reviewed? As needless simplifications of famous tricks? I have no idea. This is the book Larry wanted me to write, and so this is the book that will be published. Wish me luck with the reviews. :)
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Postby Steve Bryant » 07/23/06 11:01 AM

While I agree with Eric Mead regarding tricks with kicker after kicker, there are a lot of tricks in Mike Powers' book, and many don't fall into that category. Of the ten or more tricks I found worthy of adding to my own repertoire (for laymen, not session tricks), I posted the following remarks:

I was impressed at the amazing range of the card magic. There are topological tricks, such as Sawing a Lady, in which one card cleanly bisects another that has been placed in the card box, and Impromptu Terror, in which holes punched into a card that has been signed on both sides slide off the card and onto another. (The method has nothing to do with Mike Close's Pothole Trick.) There are tricks (but not too many) that will test your sleight-of-hand skills: Expert Cards to Pocket is extremely funny. Most are easy and clever. Natural Power Poker reminds me of the David Solomon poker deal from John Bannon's last book: the spec makes all the choices, the magician gets the royal flush. Best of All Worlds uses the Lorayne spec-shuffling bit from Out of This Universe in a fine Out of This World routine. Punch for Two adds the punched deck ruse to a familiar Tamariz card trick to create an impossible two-card location. Tri-Easy-Thon is a three-card location that exploits an X-ray card case. Invisible Triumph is a strong two-deck routine with an Invisible Deck. Finally, there are mathematical tricks. The Money Game raises the stakes on a familiar and killer card trick. And we come to my favorite in the book, Code 5. In this effect, the medium leaves the room (Mike is married to a really cute one) and a spec removes any five cards from the deck and arranges them as a stud poker hand, one card down and four up. The medium returns (magician may be out of sight at this point), looks over the situation, and reveals whether the hole card will help or not: she names it exactly. The methods used throughout are very clever and make you wish you had thought of them.

In this book you will also find the second strongest use of Jim Steinmeyer's Nine Card Trick that I have ever encountered. This alone may be worth the asking price. My only reason to be harsh with this book was spelling errors; I thought the card tricks were pretty cool.
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Postby Guest » 07/24/06 06:48 AM

Richard, thank you for the thoughtful reply. Not to get off the subject here, but I love Mr. Garcia (not sure exactly why;he sure came across as a gentleman and genuine nice guy). The two books you mentioned are some of my favorites. I finally just acquired Exclusive Card Secrets & Miracles.

As far as the new Jennings book is concerned, I can't wait. I have little doubt the book will be nothing but well-received. We can not get enough of Jennings;his thoughts on method are always an education.

Steve, thanks for your interesting mini review. I haven't picked up the new book yet (does that technically disqualify me from this thread?), but the material sounds intriguing. Quite a few of the tricks you describe remind me of Paul Harris's stuff. While I don't prefer that kind of off-the-wall stuff, they're still fun to read the clever thinking that goes into them. I enjoyed Mr. Powers' Top Sccret Stuff and lately have been going through it again.
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