Archive for February, 2009

ABK Reviewed by Jeff Prace

Posted by DerekMerdinyan on February 28th, 2009


This e-book starts off with a nice cover page, followed by a list of everything in the e-book. The Introduction is short and sweet, and basically tells you everything you need to know about the content that follows. Michael states that these work well when performing for real people, in the real world. Followed by the Introduction, there is an essay about “ABK.” Michael states what “ABK” stands for, and how it relates to magic. It was a very nice read. 

Poltergeist Coins: This is quite an interesting effect. A spectator takes out some pocket change and it is dumped inside a glass. The put their hand over the glass, and apply pressure on top of it. Suddenly, the glass starts shaking. You tell them to hold the glass still. The glass starts moving again, and might even slide across the table. You have them remove their hand, and the coins that were inside the glass are now mutilated—some coins are bent, some burned, and it’s just a plain weird image to see! 

I love the method on this one! It uses no gimmicks and no gaffs. The glass shakes and moves across the table using nothing. The magician can be across the room, and nothing is attached to the glass. It’s just plain fun, and will really fool the socks of your audience! The coins being bent inside the glass is a great additi on to the effect, and further proves what is happening. Michael has a GREAT convincer, and it really sells the effect. That convincer/subtly is worth the price of the e-book alone, and can be used in other effects as well. I highly enjoyed this, and can’t wait to start using it. 

Un-Dead Head: This is an interesting effect. A head of a doll is covered by a handkerchief. The head then moves around the room underneath the handkerchief. Finally, when the head rests back on the table top, you whisk the handkerchief away, and there is absolutely nothing to be found. 

This is another great effect and method, but probably not something I will use. It’s just not my style. It’s basically a very clever way of doing the Zombie Ball. You will need to take a trip, but the item being bought is easy to find and inexpensive. The really nice thing about this is that right after you take the handkerchief away; there is nothing to be seen. The doll head is not attached to anything, and there is nothing inside the handkerchief. It’s very clean, and way cool. Another nice point is that this doesn’t have to be done with a creepy looking doll head. The principle can be applied to many other effects. I might try this out using some type of ball. 

Silver Lining: A spectator freely selects a number. The foil from a gum wrapper is placed inside the spectator9s closed fist. She feels a weird energy form around her hand, and when she opens her hand the wrinkles in the foil have formed the number she freely chose. 

This is by far my favorite item in the e-book. It’s great. There is no force of the number, and no math has to be done to arrive at the selected number. It’s a great concept, and it’s credited to Matthew Mello. You do need to make a gimmick, and you will need to take a trip to a different store. The materials needed for this are not hard to find, and are pretty cheap. It will take some time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. The gum wrapper used is ungimmicked. This is one of those gems that come around once in a while. I hate to say it again, but this effect is worth of the e-book alone. There is a reason Michael closes his close-up sets with this. It’s great, there’s nothing more to say. 

Nightlife Aces: Two red aces are placed inside the deck facing up. The two black aces are put face up on the top and bottom of the deck. Magically, the red aces are now on top and bottom, and the black aces are in the middle. Again, the aces switch places inside the pack. All four aces are put inside the pack, and you ask your spectator where the aces are. They say there inside the middle of the deck. You say wrong, and spread the deck and show no aces are there. Immediately, the aces appear in four d ifferent pockets. 

Here’s another nice take on the classic Cavorting Aces. This is one of the first tricks I learned when I was learning the move necessary for the trick. It’s very nice. I always felt as this little trick never had an ending, and finally Michael Paul added a great one. Unlike the original this does use some gimmicks. The gimmicks can be made yourself or picked up for cheap at your local magic store. The routine does use some sleight of hand, and probably isn’t suitable for the beginning magician. The moves are common, and require lots of practice to make sure they look right. The four ace vanish ending is super easy to do, and is virtually self-working. No one should have trouble doing this part. Your hands can then be shown empty, and produce the aces in four different pockets. It’s a great routine, and I’ve been having fun playing with it. This is my second favorite in the e-book. 

Next we move into ACAAN, or “Any Card at Any Number.” Michael has some unique approaches to the plot. This could’ve been sold as a separate e-book itself. 

“Attacking ACAAN” starts off with an elegant cover page, and moves directly into an introduction. The next section is an overview of the content that is coming up. Michael talks about the moves and sleights needed, and that each version has its own pros and cons. 

Psychometry Card: A spectator is as ked to touch the back of any face down card. The card that is touched is slid onto the table top, allowing nobody to see what card is selected. The spectator then names any number, no force. The magician counts down to that number, and removes the face down card. When both cards are revealed, there are shown to be matches! For example, both cards are red fives! 

This is a very interesting method, and is not recommended for the beginner. I am working on something that is needed for this routine right now, and it will take weeks more for me to get it down correctly. If you already have this versatile thing in your arsenal, you’re pretty much ready to perform. There are a few other basic sleights required, but most card magicians should be able to do them smoothly. There is absolutely no force in the card selected, and no force in the number selected. I really like this approach, as it’s not just name a card and name a number. I really like the idea of two matching cards being found. Another big plus in this handling is that the spectator gets to choose both cards freely. A con in this handling is that the spectator doesn’t name a card, but touches one. I don’t really think it takes too much away from the effect, but some people will disagree. I really like this, and will start practicing it right after I get the main technique down. 

T minus 1: A deck of cards is held in the palms of a spectator. Another spectator names any card in the deck. A final spectator names any number from 1 to 52. The cards are removed from the box by the spectator and are counted down to the selected number. The card at the selected number is the card freely chosen by one of the other spectators. 

Although this handling is very direct, it’s my least favorite. Let’s just say you’re going to be needing a little help from a friend. Though this can be very strong, I usually perform when I have no one present, and there are random people. This won’t work for me, but if it works for you, you’ll have a great piece of magic on your hands. 


You ask one spectator to name any card. You ask another spectator to name any number. You state that you knew what card and number was going to be selected, and you prepared. You count down the number selected and arrive at one card. The one card is the card the spectator named! 

This is basically the same method as used as before, but the real thing being taught here is how to apply ACAAN to be an opener. Michael briefly describes the method, and then gives a detailed response on how this can be an opener. Michael really thought everything through on this presentation. There’s not too much more to say here, but this is very good. 

Almost ACAAN: A spectator is allow ed to right the name of any card on the back of your business card. You do not see what they right down. To make sure you don’t see what they wrote, they place the business card inside a wallet. You try to pick up what the selected card is, but instead you pick up a number. The number might signify something. You count down in the deck to the number, and that is the card the spectator wrote down. 

This is not ACAAN, but is very similar. This again uses something that I am working on. You also might need to take a trip to your local magic store, and pick something up. This something ranges in prices. The handling is also very direct, and I like it. Although, I have seen very similar handlings before. There is no force in the card selected. The major con in this handling is that you say the number. The number is not chosen by the spectator. A pro in this version is that the spectators do not tell you the card they names. I think the pro and the con balance out. It’s a very good handling, but I don’t have the necessary equipment to perform this. Once I work on the other great items in this e-book, I might pick up what I need. 

Michael now touches on another method for ACAAN. I’m not going to explain what it is, but it has been used before. What Michael has added are some nice touches and ideas. There are some pros and cons in this method as well. It was a nice bonus to the e-book, but I will most likely stick with other handlings. 

Michael then explains his final thoughts on ACAAN, and how he likes to perform it. I agree with his ideas, but I have a feeling many won’t. It was a nice section that will enhance some of the ACAAN out there. 

The Teaching: Michael is a great writer, and everything is taught very thoroughly. I didn’t have any questions by the time I finished reading the whole e-book. Michael includes photographs and short video clips inside the e-book to help teach the effect. It was a great addition, and I really like the idea of putting video files inside the e-book. You shouldn’t have a problem understanding every effect and method presented inside this e-book. 

The Production: The production of this e-book was put together solidly. The photographs looked nice, and were high quality. There were no grammar or spelling mistakes that I was able to find. Each effect in the first half of the e-book had its own little picture, which made it look nice. The second half, Attacking ACAAN, looked very elegant and nice. This 41 page e-book is great. 

Overall: I really enjoyed this e-book. I admit, I didn’t pay for this. Michael gave this to me for review. I would have bought it though, as the material in here is great. There were some things that I didn’t like and weren’t my style, but t hey were nothing compared to the great things that I will use from the e-book. Overall, I rate this 9.5/10

Jeff Prace

Barely Chewed Reviewed by Jeff Prace

Posted by DerekMerdinyan on February 19th, 2009

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icon for podpress  Barely Chewed [3:36m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


The Official Spam:

Chastain Criswell, the creator of one of the biggest hits in magic, TAG, brings you BARELY CHEWED! An easy and stunning gum magic routine.


The magician takes out a pack of gum that contains only one stick. He then offers to share. The magician then removes the stick of gum from the pack and starts to unwrap it. The stick of gum vanishes from the wrapper and appears in the magician’s mouth.

Once the gum has been chewed for a few seconds, the magician then removes the gum from his mouth and places it into the empty wrapper. The magician then offers to share the BARELY CHEWED piece of gum.

Remembering his manners, he realizes that he can’t offer BARELY CHEWED gum to his spectators, and with a wave of a hand the chewed gum and crumbled up wrapper are now wrapped again and appear brand new, and BARELY CHEWED. The wrapped gum and package are then handed out for FULL INSPECTION.

“Chastain Criswell spits out another winner!” — Aaron Smith

The Basic Effect:

You ask your audience if they would like to share a piece of gum with you. You say because you’re a magician, you share a little bit differently. You take out your pack of gum, and notice there is only one stick left. You open it up, and there is no piece of gum inside. Your audience looks up, and the magician is chewing a piece of gum; the piece of gum that was supposed to be inside the wrapper! You spit the gum back inside the wrapper and crumple it into a ball. Obviously, nobody wants to share that. So with a rub of your hand, you instantly cause the balled piece of chewed gum to turn into a brand new, wrapped stick! You take that new piece of gum and reinsert it back inside the pack. You hand to this to a spectator, saying it’s only been BARELY CHEWED!

The Setup:

The setup for this effect is very simple, and very quick. It shouldn’t take any more than a minute. Every time you perform this effect, you will have to make a new gimmick. You will go through more than one stick of gum for each gimmick you make. Luckily, you can get large packs of gum for very cheap.

The Performance:

While this is not difficult, it will take some practice. You must practice the core moves, and then the timing. The timing of this piece is a key point in making the effect look good. Bad timing will lead to a bad performance. You also must make this look natural, as many of the moves require the audience looking directly at your hands. If you don’t perform those moves smoothly, the audience will not be impressed, as they will know how the effect works. Chastain Criswell makes this look easy, but practice IS required, as it is for most effects.

Production Quality:

The production quality for this DVD is not bad. Let’s start with the DVD case. The DVD case art looks great. I’m proud to have this in my collection. I do think the front side is a little busy. The back side of the DVD case is basically the description of the effect. The DVD is filmed by James Coats using two cameras. Neither camera zooms in or out, and both cameras stay stationary for the whole DVD. I have found at some points on the DVD I would’ve liked to see something over again or closer up. Some points were hard to grasp. The DVD menu is very basic, and reminds me greatly of one that you can find on the most basic video editing software. The DVD menu had all the necessary choices, which is a big plus. While it could’ve been much better, the production quality wasn’t terrible.

The Teaching:

The teaching on this DVD is enough, but some of it seemed a little rushed. I think Chastain could’ve explained some parts better, and he could’ve reiterated some important points. I had to rewind through some points to better get a hold of the concept. Chastain goes pretty fast, and doesn’t explain some parts of the effect. The whole DVD was around 14 minutes long, and a few of those minutes were performances. I would’ve liked to have more clear instruction.


Chastain includes a bonus effect on this DVD. It’s called Flash Back Pack. Basically, a pack of Big Red gum is shown. A piece of the gum is given out to an audience member. You then say you prefer Juicy Fruit, and instantly you are holding a pack of Juicy Fruit. You can then immediately hand pieces of Juicy Fruit gum to your audience.

This is a very basic effect, and uses a very basic gimmick. Chastain has basically took a concept used many times in magic before, and applied it to gum. I am not sure how original this really is, as it’s very basic, but Chastain’s convincers really sell this effect.

On all of the live performances the audience didn’t react all that well to the effect. I don’t know why; it might’ve been because the audience didn’t understand the effect.

It’s not terrible, and is a nice bonus.


I recommend this DVD for the effect, Barely Chewed. While the production quality wasn’t terrific, nor was the teaching, the basic effect is a great idea and a wonderful effect. This retails for around $10, and for that price I highly recommend this DVD. I rate it a 7.5/10.

Jeff Prace

Trick Tac Reviewed by Mark Tirone

Posted by DerekMerdinyan on February 15th, 2009


The effect 3/4

‘Trick Tac’ Is a simple routine in nature that packs a BIG punch. You introduce a packet of tic tac’s, then you ask the spectator to pour some of the mints out into their open hand but restrict how many they take from your view. What ever they do, they MUST NOT allow you to see in their hand. The spectator keeps this in mind and keeps every single tic tac they have taken in a tight fist. However, you are able to tell them EXACTLY how many they have in there down to the last mint! 

‘Tic Tac Transpo’ is a perplexing transposition effect. One box of tic tacs is introuduce with the sweet little mints still inside along with one empty box. You empty the contents of the full box into the spectators hand and ask them to choose a mint. They do so and they slip this mint into what ever empty box they choose. With a simple shake, the selected mint vanishes from one box to instantly appear in the other 
‘A fresh new out of this world’ Out of this world is a classic in card magic. Now it has been given the Alan Rorrison treatment and brought into an impromptu new age. You take a packet of lime and orange tic tacs and you perform out of this world. 

The spectator gives each hand a colour ( green or orange) and makes a fist with each. You pick a tic tac out the box and hide the colour from their view and ask them to guess what they think it may be. As they name the colour you slip it into what ever fist they alocated that colour to. You run through about 10 mints and stop. ” Do you want to see how you are doing? how many would you guess you got right?” astoundingly, when they open their hands they will find that they didnt just get a few right. They got every single one right.

Now you probably realized that this 30 minute aprox. download consists of 3 different effects. This was made for the average to profesional magician in mind. Each one of these effects can build upon each other but were mainly polished for the preface/follow up effect to trick tac, the incredible mental effect using an ordinary pack of tic tacs. Everything you see on his website is exactly what you get here. They are all 100% impromptu and can be done any time. The only thing I am not to fond of is that for these effects you need to dump them onto the table and therefore is not the best idea to hand them out to be eaten due to your hands being naturaly disgusting. But don’t let that discourage you. These are hardcore, practical effects for the real world. Alan Rorrison NEVER misses! 

The download 3/4 One more thing I did not particularly care for was the lack orf performance. I wish I could have seen him perform these effects for real people but unfortunately that didn’t make it into the final product. He does a great job with the visual graphics, lighting, sound, and camera operation though. Those are minor points but in the long run will help out drasticaly being that tic tacs are naturaly very hard objects to pick up on camera, even when he isn’t in a studio teaching these effects. He takes each one in turn with a short introduction of each before each effect then a close up shot with him at a table and teaching these effects in DETAIL. 

The teaching 4/4 Alan did yet another great job with the close up instruction for each effect. I want to point out right now that each of these effects CANNOT be performed without the proper subtlety. It sounds a little more than crazy but Alan gives you professional insight and ideas for each effect that it is more crazy to leave them out. You won’t necessarily have a dry effect but you can have much more. But as awesome as Alan is, he built this subtlety right into the tricks and the teaching so you almost cannot forget them. But back to the teaching, he did a great job teaching and had a great camera angle with it as well. He tripped over his words a few times but that absolutely cannot get in the way of your learning. He goes slow and at a learnable speed so that you can follow along very easily if you have some tic tacs at your expense. 4/4 

Overall 3/4 At the sad yet happy ending to this download, Alan of course gives his thanks and credits for the effects and some more professional tips and ideas for each of these effects. Some more things to point out is that everything you read in the product description is exactly how the audience experiences it. The oil and water was particularly one thing I was very sceptical for but it IS what you read it as. Very fair and ver cool! Alan did a great job. Thanks Alan and Thanks to Derek Merdinyan and Justin Robert Young for passing this along to me! Until next time, I’m Mark Tirone. 

Sigillum Diaboli Reviewed by Jamie Daws

Posted by DerekMerdinyan on February 13th, 2009

Magic Review: Alan Rorrison’s SIGILLUM DIABOLI|

Well everyone remembers the original “card warp effect” by Roy Walton and it is one that will stay in magic for a very long time. There have been many versions of the “card Warp” over the years, some successful and some not. I have in fact grabbed hold of most versions of the effect. From the original Roy Walton Classic at Davenports magic shop, to David Jenkins’s “Warp one”. Then came along a Wee Scotsman, Alan Rorrison vs. Owen Packard’s Big Blind Media Production. With Alan’s witty personality and BBM’s classy Production, I knew I had to get it.

So let’s get into the nitty and gritty. Firstly, as an owner of so many of Alan effects, I have to say honestly, this is got to be one of the best DVD’s of his I own. At first glance many will look at the performance video and believe they know how it’s done. I can tell you after watching the DVD, there is sooo much more then you could ever imagine. The workings of this are in fact so marvellously thought out; it makes it a pure joy to perform. Alan begins by taking us in depth into the set up of the effect. He shows a couple of different handling to get into the set up and leads us on our way toward the beginning of the trick. Again, he shows everything so in depth. I actually asked Alan why he had done the DVD so incredibly in depth when in fact, he could have given us a lot let information and we would still have what we needed to which his reply was, “I would prefer to give you too much information then to give you to little”. This is Alan Through and through and really shines a light behind his effects and him as a magic creator.

Throughout the DVD, Alan and BBM have made sure to give full credits to all those other versions of the card warp out there and also to any moves or ideas. The teaching on the DVD (as with all BBM products) is fantastically filmed, edited and overall quality is just staggering. They always go to that extra mile to make sure the DVD is top quality for us to watch. Everything is very in depth and well taught. When we get into the trick, we are shown everything slowly. Although one or two parts of the trick are a little bit nacky, Alan makes sure we can make it as easy as possible and has fully realised our needs. He addresses any problems we may have very openly (which are nearly none) and tells us how to easily solve them. The visualness of this versions is just amazing! It exceeds any of its predecessors in every way. It is never covers, the method is incredibly clever and the reactions from your audience are pure shock. Alan also supplies a few ideas for patter but the one he teaches with is just fantastic. Using a story about the sign of the Devil and how the “mark of the devil” will alter the state of something that is hidden and evil can rear its ugly head at any time. There are so many possibilities to suit your own working style.

What I also love about this is that you’re practically set up automatically for the next performance, set up takes about 5-10 seconds and all happens while you’re addressing your audience. Everything has been fantastically put together and every aspect of the effect has been thought about and addressed. I mentioned at the beginning of the review that I own most versions of Card Warp. As of now they have taken pride in my working routine. But now, as of the moment I fell in love with Alan’s version, Sigillum Diaboli has taken pride of place in my routine and it will amaze my audience forever more.

It doesn’t just stop there. You know there is always going to be some hidden fun when it comes to BBM. Alan has also included a fantastic transposition effect. It’s basically a copper/silver routine but with cards and completely visual. Using the Sigillum Diaboli technique to create a stunning piece by piece transposition. This is just another fantastic use for the trick and one I think, in the right setting, will blow people away. I’m actually very tempted to turn this into a parlour routine because I genuinely think it can play to a large audience and still be a winner for everyone.

Lastly, were given a great little money trick. This is just fantastic. So original in story and method. The idea’s of making money is everywhere. So how about next time your spectators say “So can’t you just make money out of thin air?” you can pull this little gem out of your wallet and show them a literal way to make money. Just a genius effect and a fantastic way of thinking.

Again, everything in this DVD is stunningly put together. The content is the best as usually from Alan Rorrison and lastly it’s something everyone will use. The handling is just superb. This one is a real winner and one that can go into any working act.

Another great product from Alan Rorrison and Big Blind Media!

Available at

Jamie Daws

Karnival Deck Reviewed by Derek Merdinyan

Posted by DerekMerdinyan on February 9th, 2009

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