Magic is a fulfilling and rewarding hobby for some and a profession for a few. For me, it's a hobby that ads fun to many aspects of my life. That includes interactions with friends and relatives, especially children (I have two grandchildren and many nieces and nephews) and enhancing professional lectures and presentations with occasional "demonstrations" to help make a point. It is fulfilling but demands practice, care, and discipline. It is an exciting and highly accessible hobby since almost anyone can take it up at low cost by just checking out some books from a library and beginning the adventure. However, it seems to be a vanishing hobby since it seems that fewer and fewer people are pursuing it in this era of constant digital entertainment (not to besmirch video games or other addictions, of course). For those of you smart enough to recognize that amateur magic represents a valuable skill that can help you throughout your life, this page is meant to offer some reflections and resources that might be of help, and also to share some thoughts from past experiences about the fun and excitement of this noble hobby for all ages and all economic situations. It's also an area where each performer, from beginner to expert, can add their own personality, twists, and even innovations. What a tremendous opportunity for creativity, fun, and personal growth! You don't need to be rich to get started. So what are you waiting for?

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My Performances

In spite of being an amateur magician, I get plenty of opportunities for fun with magic. I often throw in a few magical effects as part of my technical or patent-related presentations that I gave. I frequently use it in presentations on technical topics at universities, conferences, and various companies. Discussions of new product development, intellectual property strategy, innovation, biofuels, consumer products, or other topics I cover are likely to include something to highlight a point. I also do magic shows for service, such as for parties of friends or for educational groups, charitable groups or service organizations. For example, I used magic effects in a 2010 presentation to the Wisconsin Telecommunications Association and a 2009 presentation in Singapore at their Innovation and Enterprise Week. At the 69th Annual Conference of the Wisconsin Association for Career and Technical Education held in the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel of Appleton, Wisconsin, I gave a one-hour presentation on "The Magic of Patents" aimed at teaching educators about innovation and the role of patents in our economy (and even in U.S. history). It was sprinkled with magic effects. I've done a couple performances for the Classical School in Appleton, and shows in Neenah, Wisconsin for the Fox Valley Christian Academy. IMost of my magic, though, is done for friends at church, relatives, and my very patient family. Fun hobby! For details on what I do in a performance, see my "Typical Show" section below.

Contents

A few words of introduction...

Magic is an exciting and rewarding hobby for me, though I am solely an amateur. I have been pursuing this hobby off and on since about age 11. Good books in a local library fueled my young interest, and it has persisted to this day. I prefer to perform for small groups (10-50 people), though I also enjoy close-up. I work hard to perform well, but I am an amateur - and some of you know what that means. Some of my favorite effects include ITR flotation, clippo, Anderson's torn and restored newspaper, Lethal Tender, color changing shoelaces, the Raven, Lethal Tender (try it with the Raven for one segment of the effect!), rice bowls, stratosphere, slush, Twisted Sisters, coin alchemy, mental epic, mirror penetration, Professor's Nightmare, sympathetic coins, miser's dream, various coin effects, pencil through bill (Misled and other forms), and some of my own attempts at innovation.

Wishful thinking: Magic ought to be an art form - and for some performers, it is. My favorite magician, the supremely talented and original Jeff McBride, exemplifies the power and beauty that magic can achieve. We amateurs often cheapen magic as art, leaving the impression that it is just a matter of buying tricks and "doing" them, often for unwilling audiences. The joy of experiencing art is too frequently lacking. Even my best performances still leave people saying "Wow, how did he do it?" rather than focusing on the joy of experiencing magic. I see that kind of joy in doing magic for young children, where the young mind focuses on the magic and not the hidden secret. I hope to eventually take my "tricks" to a higher level for adults as well.

My respect grows for the real artists out there. Keep it up!

Report from Appleton's Houdini Days, 2004

Appleton, Wisconsin was the epicenter for an amazing magic celebration, the Houdini Days magic convention and festival held Sept. 2-5, 2004. It is amazing how much world-class talent descended upon our little town for this event. The big show on Saturday night, Sept. 4, at our beautiful new Performing Arts Center featured Ice McDonald, Michael Finney, the Comedy Magic of Mike and Chris, and Robert Baxt, with the second half of the impressive program reserved solely for the grand performance of the incredible Jeff McBride. The audience went berserk over McBride's performance, giving him a rousing standing ovation that brought him back three times and garnered an impressing bonus encore of his brutally skillful card manipulation routine. I'm still walking on air -- without wires. And McBride seemed to enjoy the audience's extreme enthusiasm, and promised that he'll be back.

I've got a few photographs from the Houdini Days event (part of my collection of photographs from Appleton).

The Houdini Days festival included many hours of free magic performances in downtown Appleton. In addition to the performers I listed for the evening show, there were outdoors performances by additional masters like Michael Ammar (another of my all-time favorite magicians), Mark Wilson, Doc Eason, Joshua Jay, Ron Stetson, Dean Gunnarson, the Reed sisters (Jessica Reed, Shayna Reed, and Mandy Reed), and more, along with some Wisconsin wizards like Rondini, Bruce Hetzler, Nate Nygren, Rex Sikes, Lou Lepore of Menasha, and an award-winning thirteen-year-old young man doing dove magic, Lee Haushalter of Brillion, Wisconsin (I have his contact information if you'd like to know more). And there were free magic workshops for young magicians at the Appleton Art Center taught by some very talented magicians: Mark Wilson, Michael Ammar, Jessica Reed, Nate Nygren, Ice McDonald and Bruce Hetzler. How kind of them!

For magicians, there was a series of lectures on two days of the event by some of these magicians, including an amazing appearance by the master of big illusions, Franz Harary, a brilliant inventor and dazzling performer (Copperfield, for example, has used many of his effects). I was thrilled to learn more about his work and to meet him in person. He's an inspiration - and, like many magicians I've met, a really likeable and pleasant person.

Most wonderful of all, Jeff McBride offered a five-hour Secret Session Workshop for magicians on Sept. 3, with seats for only 25 people. I feel incredibly fortunate to have attended that class to learn from the magical wisdom of Jeff McBride. It was a transforming event for me, one that has inspired me to do more with my magic and to do more to advance this powerful medium for others. (Jeff runs the world's only school for magicians. Based on what I experienced in my five-plus hours with him, I can recommend him as a master teacher who can help people at any skill level. He's very kind and treats everyone with warmth and respect.)

Many thanks to Chris Cochrane and Mike Schroeder for making this event happen!

Wherever you live, whether you're a magician or just a lover of magic, you would be wise to consider coming to Appleton the next time we hold a Houdini Days festival. I'll keep you posted. Sadly, the hoped-for 2005 event had to be canceled due to a serious automobile accident that hurt organizer Chris Cochrane, but he's up and walking again, thank goodness! He did help organize a smaller event this October called "Shackled and Submerged." It was a family-friendly evening on Oct. 29 featuring a variety of acts, climaxing with a death-defying escape from escape artist Mike Schroeder, who was chained and submerged in the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel's swimming pool.

magician

A Typical Show by Jeff Lindsay

Let me describe some of the effects and sequences I employed during recent performances at an elementary school. Ostensibly, I was lecturing about how scientists innovate, but my "lecture" on the "magic of invention" was 90% magic show. I began by blowing bubbles using a commercial, ungimmicked plastic bottle of soap solution with a plastic tool for blowing bubbles. I explained that ideas are like bubbles - and most are empty, flimsy, and break upon contact with reality. But every now and then, a scientist can turn an idea into reality. I then reach for a bubble with my apparently empty hand and grab it, showing that is now an iridescent crystal ball, similar in shape and color to the soap bubble, but obviously solid. The ball is then vanished from hand to hand a few times, striving to follow a few touches from Jeff McBride.

The problematic interaction of ideas with reality is further illustrated using the needle through the balloon trick, in which a large needle with a yarn threaded at its end is send completely through a translucent balloon. A few of my own gags, as always, are incorporated. Love that effect.

I then point out that the purpose for innovation in a company is to make money, and if we use our imagination properly, we can turn ideas into money. I pick up my empty money bucket (I use a large can painted with a couple of Chinese characters) and perform my version of the Miser's Dream, with the emphasis being on money plucked from the children of the audience. Streams of coins are taken from elbows, shoes, hair, noses, and ears. Lots of fun.

Other effects that were used in various performances, all tied into my theme of ideas and invention and competing with others, included:

I also enjoy using Delite - the production of a red glowing lite that jumps around and does amazing things - especially as young kids walk into the room to warm them up.

Most performances include a floating Kleenex routine. I also often use the professor's nightmare (3 ropes). I'm also adding some card productions to my repertoire.

One of my favorite effects, one that I've never seen others perform, involves my own twists on something by the great mentalist Theodore Annemann. In one version, I hand a deck to spectators and have one or two people shuffle it and then cut to a card. I tell them that I have predicted what the name of the card is on a slate that I have turned away from the audience. The card is revealed. I turn the slate around and it says "The name of the card is" (in one version). Groan. I explain that I really knew the selected card but just didn't have space to write the full prediction, so to make space, I'll erase the slate and complete the sentence. As I erase the chalk writing, some parts of the message don't erase at all. The parts that are left actually spell out the name of the selected card. I use this effect sometimes when talking about patents and the concept of amending claims, trying to make sure that the narrowed claims still cover what we predict the competition will select. (Jeff McBride liked this effect when I performed it for the group in a McBride master class in 2004 - but of course, he's very polite.)

Attempts at Innovation

When time and creativity permit (rarely), I enjoy developing new effects (or new twists on old effects). Examples I call my own include:

Magicians

The following list is not in any particular order, except that my handful of favorite magicians are listed first, starting with my very favorite:
Jeff McBride
A true professional and aficionado, Jeff brings many fields together in his magic - mime, music, dance, Japanese theater, and brilliant creativity and artistry. There is nothing else like his show. A must see! And he's a genuinely warm and interesting person in real life, with an awful lot to share. Having done one 5-hour class with him, I think it would be fantastic to spend a few days at his Las Vegas school for magicians. If you're planning on this or have done it, please let me know. Also, his video on coin and card magic have been a true inspiration to me. I highly recommend them a great teacher of awesome effects.
Michael Ammar
Another of my all-time favorite magicians. He's kind, gracious, and interesting in person. I've learned some of my favorite effects from his videos. His skills with Topit are astounding, and some of the effects he's developed or perfected are truly worth learning.
Franz Harary
What other magicians performs for live audiences of 40,000 people or more? Harary's international show draws huge crowds in places like Japan and Argentina. Franz is the master of large illusions, and his show requires about 7 semi-trucks loaded with equipment. He was a music major at the University of Michigan performing with a marching band at halftime for football games. He had a desire to enhance the halftime show with some magic, and when he was given that opportunity, had to come up with a way to do large scale effects surrounded by a crowd. He rose to the occasion, and has been innovating ever since. When you see his work, you might think he was trained as an engineer or scientist, but his educational background is music. He's both an inventor and a performer, and many other magicians use his effects (usually after purchasing the effect). One of the highlights of the 2004 Houdini Days events was attending a lecture by Franz and talking to him about his experiences in India, where he helps an amazing group of indigenous magicians. Harary, you've got my vote of approval as an outstanding international star of magic. Thank you!
Joshua Jay
One of the world's most promising young magicians. He is a master of close-up magic, has invented some amazing tricks and gimmicks, writes a regular column for Magic Magazine, and has been invited to 48 countries so far for his magic - yet he's sticking with his college education at Ohio State University. He strikes me as a well-rounded, well-mannered, and really likeable person with incredible skill and drive. I was very happy to meet him at Houdini Days in Appleton (Sept. 2004), where I learned some effects from him and was impressed with his showmanship and technique. He also spoke kindly to my sons who were with me when I ran into him later - little things like that leave a lasting impression long after the details of the magic are forgotten.
Andi Gladwin
A leading close-up magician in the United Kingdom with a site at Illusionist.co.uk. Also check out his magic blog as well.
Mark Wilson
He's done so much good for magic! And how kind he was to come to Appleton in 2004 to do free performances at our Houdini Days festival. Classic and classy. His books have been a great help to me.
David Blaine
Awesome! truly at the cutting edge for his genre.
The Spencers
Some of my favorite performers. Their 2004 show in Appleton, Wisconsin was superb and entirely suitable for families. Thank you, Spencers!
Shufton.com Magic
A chance encounter in Appleton led me to this interesting site and source of magic.
Dean Gunnarson
A master of escape!
Rondini
Appleton's own! A well-liked magician with a growing show and the ability to impress large audiences and small.
Bruce Hetzler
Another gem from Appleton. He's a professor at Lawrence University who has used his intelligence and wit to create some impressive effects. Excellent close-up, ideal routines for restaurants, outdoor settings, etc., with really amusing patter.
Nate Nygren
A Wisconsin magician with excellent skills. He also impressed me with his support of our Houdini Days event, serving as their Webmaster and as a performer for the outdoor shows. He conveys a pleasant style of mysterious entertainment. His Website is also worth browsing - and even includes some thought-provoking articles on non-magical topics.
Doc Eason
He has invented some card routines that just stun me. Brilliant.
Michael Finney
A hilarious comedian and magician. His Website provides a couple delightful videos of live presentations.
Danny Magic
Based in Milwaukee, this fine magician and escape artist has performed around the world and added a lot to the 2004 Houdini Days celebration with a great imitation of Harry Houdini.
The Amazing Rex Sikes
Wisconsin's own mind-reading speaker and presenter on the powers of the mind and nonverbal communication. A great resource and change of pace for corporate America!
Ron Stetson
A fascinating, high-energy magician who can startle audiences with bending forks, amazing book tests, and his own brand of hilarious comedy. A real treat.
Lou Lepore
A Wisconsin magician based in Menasha. He was one of the performers at Houdini Days 2003 and 2004.
Penn and Teller
Insane and hilarious, sometimes unbearable.
Louie Lafikes
A prominent magician in the St. Louis area.
Robert Baxt
A recovering lawyer who gave up the dark side and became a comedian, magician, and inventor of awesome magic.
The Close-Up Magic of John LeBlanc

Magic on the Web

The Magic Newswire
The Original News and Magic
Magic in the News
Recent news stories involving magicians. A service from About.com.
Ellusionist.com
Ellusionist.com is an exciting online magic outlet with incredibly well done videos that you can download to your computer or have shipped to you. They offer some excellent street magic and other effects, with great videos like Ninja 2. One of my very favorites places. I've had some great success with a couple video that I purchased and downloaded. Be sure to follow directions carefully and be patient (huge files take time). A great resource!
Magic at About.com - a great resource where you can learn basic magic tricks.
Vanishing Magic
Cool magic effects taught in videos available for downloading.
Magic - The Magazine for Magicians
13337 E. South St., #310, Cerritos, CA 90701
Phone: (310) 860-1508.
Inside Magic
News for magicians - a valuable resource.
TV Magic Guide
Find out what magic-related programs are playing on TV.
Magic Times
Online current events for and about magicians.
Society of American Magicians
Abracadabra Magic
A slick site for this large magic outlet in New Jersey. They also offer an interesting mail order catalog. (Phone: 732-805-0200)
International Stars of Magic
MagicWeek
A e-zine about magic in Britain.
SAM Assembly 61 in Milwaukee
Houdini Club of Wisconsin
Robinson Wizard's All Magic Guide
An excellent set of magic links.
Magic Tricks for Kids
Good resource with some great links and useful tips for young magicians.
High-TechMagic.com
Interesting gizmos and gadgets.
Magicians at Yahoo!
Pages about Harry Houdini
Houdini grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin - my town. It's nice to see a web site about him.
Magic with a paper theme: favorite effects
My page.
AllMagic.com
Actually teaches you some cool tricks, and offers many resources.

Magic Dealers

Check out the alt.magic FAQ that offers a list of dealers. It's a good way to see if one is near you.

Dealers I know and like:

Others to consider:

My Review of Several Magic Books

These are some books that I own (one or two have been borrowed):
Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic, Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc. Phil, PA, 1988.

Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic by Mark Wilson and Walter Gibson.
For amateurs like myself, this book is a must buy! Loaded, extensive, broad, reasonable in its demands, and fascinating in its breadth (472 pages on numerous topics, small print, concise)/ It is clear, well illustrated and cheap! (I got mine for $18 on sale.) 160 pages are devoted to card tricks, about 50 pages to coins, 10 pages to currency, 30 pages to ropes, about 25 pages to silks and handkerchiefs, with more pages for rubber bands, mentalism, sponge balls, cups and balls, billiard balls, larger illusions, and make-it-yourself tricks. (Frankly, the book may be irresponsible for the number of effects that it reveals.)

The Klutz Book of Magic by John Cassidy and Michael Stroud, Klutz Press, Palo Alto, CA 1990

This is an excellent book for beginners. It is a collection of 31 tricks that have been carefully selected from thousands of candidates for their effectiveness and ease of performance. Some require skill, but the effort is well worth the investment. This book is unusual in that several props come with it, including a metal ring (about 3" diam.), a nice piece of colored cord, a rubber sheet for coin through rubber, a t. tip, and a silk. The book has an especially good selection of effects with string or rope. My favorite effects are:

(1) "Silken Dollar," in which a silk is extracted from a borrowed dollar held in empty hands

(2) the famous "Fruit Card Trick," in which a corner is torn off from a card selected by a spectator. The rest of the card vanishes and is found inside an orange. The torn corner held by the spectator matches the missing corner of the card in the fruit.

(3) Ring Flip - a ring is flipped onto a loop of string, becoming miraculously connected with a knot. This effect is visually appealing - and requires considerable practice!

Bev Taylor's Town House Magic, compiled and edited by Bruce Hetzler, Town House Publications, Appleton, Wisconsin, 1993.

A truly enjoyable and worthwhile magic book! Dr. Bruce Hetzler (see HetzlerMagic.com) has done a great job in paying tribute to Town House Magic and in sharing the magic of Bev Taylor. A few effects may be dated, but most are timeless and exciting. The price of the book (whatever it is!) is more than justified by the detailed plans for the stunning Visible Block Penetration and the Improved Westgate Bowl Production, but there are many more great effects for stage and close-up. Some of the patter ideas are quite instructive for performers wondering how to approach a trick. (Kudos to Bruce Hetzler, who is a magician in my town of Appleton, Wisconsin, and a Professor of Psychology at Lawrence University. Bruce also volunteered for our former Society of Young Magicians, helping to teach dozens of local children the art of magic.)

101 T. Tip Tricks, booklet by Gary Darwin, 1994, with forward by Harry Blackstone.

A short booklet with many excellent ideas for the t. tip. Several useful sleights are taught first, including some that were entirely new to me. Then 101 effects follow, some of which are truly stunning. I purchased mine for $2 from Ash's magic shop in Chicago. What a deal!

Modern Coin Magic by J.B. Bobo, Dover Publications, New York, 1982 (softbound reprint of the 1952 classic).

One of the best books I own. If you enjoy coin magic, this is the place to begin. Full of excellent sleights and effects for all skill levels (many going far beyond my limited abilities). 236 coin tricks and 116 coin sleights are covered. Some gimmicked coins are treated, but the coverage is relatively light. The strength of the book is in its true sleight of hand. A few effects are out of date (requiring clothing or coins that aren't commonly available), but many are immortal. Pick a few effects and practice feverishly!

Newspaper Magic by Gene Anderson and Frances Marshall, Magic, Inc., Chicago, IL, 1968 (1991 printing).

Many useful (and some not so useful) effects with newspapers are included here. Clearly, the highlight of this book - completely worth the $12 or so you'll pay - is Anderson's Torn and Restored Newspaper effect. I use this regularly and it is simply stunning. A section of newspaper is shown. Page by page, front and back, the performer shows each of 8 pages made of two full-size sheets. The newspaper is then clearly torn up into a small, ragged bundle. No switching, bags, cloths, or mysterious movements are employed. The torn bundles is held in front of the spectators the whole time. The magician snaps or pulls it open, and it is the original newspaper again! Again, page by page, the magician shows that the whole newspaper is restored - and no signs of its once-torn state are evident. As close to pure magic as you can get, when done right. It takes careful preparation and considerable practice to avoid a number of subtle pitfalls, but is clearly worth the effort!

Other effects include clippo (a cut strip of newspaper instantly restores itself to an uncut sheet, though shorter by the size of the cut middle segment), Afghan bands (good variation), milk vanish in newspaper, some torn paper art, etc.

Paul Gertner's Steel and Silver by Richard Kaufman, published by Richard Kaufman and Alan Greenberg, 1994.

This is a book for serious magicians, especially well suited for close-up performers and those working conventions. Paul Gertner is an award-winning master of the art. The effects in typical magic books for amateurs look pretty lame in comparison. Gertner's steel balls and cups is a wonderful variation of cups and balls in which steel balls (not soft, silent, cloth-covered balls) appear under metal cups - and multiply and expand. Masterful. Ring on the Hourglass is a real miracle - honored by Copperfield. There are a variety of novel (and difficult) coin and card effects, including the introduction of some new general-purpose sleights. I paid $35 for this, ordering from Paul Diamond in Fort Lauderdale. Glad I own it, though there are only a few effects that are currently within my level of skill and determination (a great deal of preparation is needed for some of these tricks).

The Amateur Magician's Handbook, 4th edition, by Henry Hay, A Signet Book (New American Library), 1982.

This handbook was first published in 1950. It is a classic, though outdated in many sections in spite of a little revision (and a section by the Amazing Randi on shows for children). This is where I turned to as a teenager when I started getting really interested in magic. This is where I learned my basic sleights and several classic effects that I still love, such as Sympathetic Coins (4 coins migrate under two cards) and many other coin effects, sucker torn-and-restored Kleenex tissue (always amazes!), and Miser's Dream (coins are repeatedly plucked out of the air and placed into a bucket). Cards take up nearly half the book, followed by a big section on coins (much borrowed from T. Nelson Downs - and some effects seem nearly impossible to perform well), with a few other areas treated as well (silks, balls, linking rings, and cups and balls). It is an inexpensive paperback now, well worth the price.

Elastrix: The Encyclopedia of Rubber Band Magic by Ed Mishell and Abe Hurwitz, Magico Magazine, P.O. Box 156, NY, NY 10002, 1990.

The reason I bought this was to learn how to do the "Penetrating Bands" (commonly called "Crazy Man's Handcuffs") which David Copperfield performed on one of his specials. In this effect, two bands are interlocked on the thumb and first fingers of both hands, preventing separation of the hands without removing the bands from the fingers. But with a little twist, the bands suddenly appear to have passed through each other. The trick, when done well, is visual and effective. The book does a poor job of describing this effect. My experience was that I had to play around with the idea for several hours before I picked up on some of the subtleties that the book neglects. If I hadn't seen it performed previously, I might have skipped the trick completely.

There are a number of other interesting tricks if you enjoy working with rubber bands - but if you do, you might have better materials already. The book appears to have been put together hastily. Some of the tricks are simply dumb. Conclusion: the book is inexpensive (about $10) and may be worth it, but my endorsement is lukewarm.

On the other hand, a new book, Elastrix II by Stephen Minch, is said to be excellent. A fellow magician told me that is has many variations or improvements of now "classic" tricks by Dan Harlan and features excellent diagrams and explanations.

Milbourne Christopher's Magic Book, by Milbourne Christopher, Thomas Y. Crowel Company, New York, 1977.

An interesting book that promotes Milbourne Christopher. This readable and generally enjoyable book is intended for beginners. It discusses the history of magic a little, then introduces a number of tricks (with many anecdotes from Christopher's experiences) following themes such as mental magic, ropes, cards, and matches. Many effects are not very sophisticated but can be useful, especially as components in your own customized tricks. In general, I'd say there is no reason to go out of your way to get this book.

How to Be (a Fake) Kreskin, by the Amazing Kreskin, St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1996. Paperback, $10.

This book contains a number of interesting tricks and effects, including mentalism and some ways to trick the senses. Kreskin won't admit that his psychic feats are just well done tricks, but he says that he's teaching ways to imitate some of his effects using "fake" methods. He feels that the difference between the fake methods and his actual performances are so great that we should not doubt his abilities. If you can overlook his posturing, it's a worthwhile book.

As a gullible thirteen-year old, I read Kreskin's autobiography, The Amazing Kreskin, and really believed that he had developed incredible mental powers. I was especially impressed by the years of effort it took to be able to perform his demonstration of telekinesis, wherein a sponge ball is made to jump up into a champagne glass under cover of a small curtain. Fortunately, a few weeks later, I was looking through some magic magazines in the home of a kind, retired professional magician in Salt Lake City. In one of his old magazines was an advertisement for exactly the same trick that I had seen Kreskin perform on TV and had read about in his book: the sponge ball that jumps up into a glass. I was especially disappointed that it only cost $25. I've been a little less gullible ever since.

Bill Severn's Big Book of Magic, Bill Severn, David McKay Comp., New York, 1973.

Aimed at young beginners, this book is clear and well written, teaching simple effects that can be done with common objects. For more serious amateurs, it lacks quality effects.

Secrets of Magic by Walter Gibson, Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1967.

Not for performers, but a book for the curious that attempts to explain magical mysteries throughout history, such as the serpents of Pharaoh, torture tricks (bed of nails and others), fire eating, sword swallowers, bullet catching, snake charming, sawing a woman in half (old variations), and methods of fake mediums and spiritualists. Always interesting, but lacking documentation. I'm not sure how accurate his treatment is of some effects.

The New Magician's Manual by Walter B. Gibson, Dover Publications, New York, 1975.

This is a reprint of a book first published in 1936. There a few good effects, but it has not been of much value to me personally.

Video Review: Chuck Leach's Raven
Well done video, packed with good tips and great demonstrations of the power of the Raven, a novel magical device. Thorough.

Video Review: ITR #1
Useful video demonstrating some powerful techniques with the ITR, including tips for maintenance and repair. Demos include passing objects through a ring, floating dollar, dancing firefly, others. Not quite as packed and as concise as I would like, but still valuable for new owners of the ITR.

A poem for magicians

This hilarious poem by Lance Pierce (used with permission) is best enjoyed by those familiar with things magical.


Back to the table of contents of this page

Beam back to Jeff Lindsay's planet

Magic with paper: my favorite effects

The Real Work of Being a Magician - great article from the New Yorker, 2008.


Curator: Jeff Lindsay Contact:
Last Updated: Feb. 28, 2014
URL: "http://www.jefflindsay.com/magic.html"