Sunday, 14 November 2010

Review : Pack Up Your Cards Volume 1

Pack Up Your Cards Volume 1 - (Some New Commercial Card Magic From the Working Repertoire of Paul Gordon)

Available free from my shredder bucket.

This work by Paul Gordon is the first of three volumes each containing a handful of unoriginal tricks, bad crediting, misinformation, bad writing and sloppy construction. Paul is obviously highly influenced by Harry Lorayne, whose irritating writing style and dubious publishing ethos he has chosen to adopt as his own. The booklet is nicely produced on heavy white paper stock, A4 is size and photo illustrated throughout. Though fairly short, at just 21 pages, this is a major plus! Any longer and you may suffer a nervous breakdown, due to the torturous trauma of clawing your way to the end of all the drivel, misinformation, flawed logic and illogical construction contained within.

The book has obviously been rushed, as there are many typographical and grammatical errors running through the text. However, it’s the tricks that are the real problem.

The Three and a Half of Clubs Trick

Paul states ’This is simply my way of performing an old standard.’ Funnily enough, Paul’s way of ’performing an old standard’ is exactly the same as every other magician’s way. i.e. You force the 7 of clubs and get them to half the value then show that you predicted the ’three and a half of clubs’. I have absolutely no idea what he is claiming credit for with this, it’s an old standard done in the standard way, what’s the point?

Millennium Collectors 2

I’m holding back on my opinion of this routine until I can be sure of who to credit for it. Paul spends some time crediting himself saying ’[this] first appeared in The Card Magic of Paul Gordon (1994) and Nocturnal Creations(1997). Harry Lorayne also described it in a 1997 issue of Apocalypse.’ So we have three previous references where Paul has published the same effect. So it MUST be his, right? However, he then goes on to say ’[this was] Originally inspired by Derek Dingle’s effect (Complete Works of Derek Dingle) and some Michael Vincent handlings. Plus, of course, the original Roy Walton effect in Abra.’ Now correct me if I’m wrong, but the complete works of Derek Dingle is a BOOK, not an EFFECT. So I’m assuming he means it’s inspired by an effect IN said book. But which effect? Anyone know? It’s a big book, how about issuing a proper reference for once mister gordon (no capital letter for you, sonny jim!). Also, WHICH Michael Vincent handlings and WHERE can we find them? As an aside, the proper Abra reference for Roy Walton’s original effect is (Abracadabra, Vol 47, No. 1203, Feb 15, 1969) and more recently ( The Complete Walton Vol II – Roy Walton 1988 – pp, 31-34).

The Amazing Four-Card Trick

Once again, Paul starts off by crediting himself, stating ’[this is] Based on a trick (Bride of McBride) from my book Nocturnal Creations, 1996’. Then, moving swiftly on, paul states ’this ’premise’ can be traced back, via Vernon, Jennings, Kaps et al, to Edward Victor’s Eleven Card Trick.’ Which indeed it can; however, this particular handling is not based on the ’Bride of McBride’ at all. It’s ’based’ (understatement) on George McBride’s ’One Too Many’ from his Osmosis booklet which is credited as such in Nocturnal Creations; hence, ’Bride of McBride’. The only change Paul has made, is to carry out the add-on from the deck, whereas George uses a palm. Incidentally, paul’s handling change results in an inferior effect, because the spectators can no longer deal the cards into your hand, which was possible using George’s original handling. Maybe it's the cynic in me but I think republishing a variation of a variation and leaving out the credit for the original creator seems like a sneaky way of giving yourself credit. If this was a premeditated decision then it's shameful, if it's an oversight then it's still shameful.

Waddingtons The Second

Here we have a trick only possible while using a pack of ’Waddingtons Number 1’ cards. This is a spelling effect using five words on the Waddingtons pack: “Waddingtons, Playing, Cards, Linen and Finish”. After you deal out those 30 odd cards into several piles, you gather them up onto the deck and repeat the entire sequence. That’s right, you spell the five words yet again, nothing magical’s happened yet, just incessant, repetitive, monotonous dealing and spelling. After you get through all that, you reveal a spectators selection. Wow, big deal, what a pay off. This is closely followed by an illogical four ace production, just tagged on the end for no apparent reason. This is a horribly redundant, un-commercial and boring trick. Spelling effects which only use one or two words are tedious enough, but five words, spelt twice? Just to get a weak revelation? It’s like doing Lorayne’s Out of This Universe without the payoff, which is bad enough even with the payoff, to quote Charlie Brown; ’Good Grief!’ This is dire in the extreme.

TOCA (Though of Cards Across)

This is an ultra minor, and in many ways inferior variation of Dave Campbell’s ’Cards Across’ from The Dave Campbell Legacy – Peter Duffie. (Incidentally, a lot of the effects in the ’Pack Up Your Cards’ series are based on effects from books only a few months old and yet these are heralded as effects from paul’s ’working repertoire’? Hmm…). paul says ’This ’new’ handling is akin to (and inspired by) Dave Campbell’s (see Peter Duffie’s The Dave Campbell Legacy, 2004) routine.’ Akin to? Please, it’s almost identical and is practically an insult to the man’s memory and legacy! The main change paul has made is to change the moment the palm is made, as he feels you have the cards palmed for too long in the original. However, if you just wait until the spectators are almost finished deciding on which cards to remember before you do the palm, you only have the cards in palm for a few seconds (6 cards in the original, NINE in pauls variation). Plus, due to the way Dave handles the switch, you are left clean as a whistle with no further hassle needed on your part. Not so in paul’s handling. paul does the switch in reverse, which is awkward and difficult to execute as you palm nine cards as you switch them for 6 others. Then you have to do a dubious false count (using running multiple push offs), which is unnecessary in Dave’s original handling. In fact, in the original the spectator can handle all the counting, not so in pauls ’variation’. To add insult to injury, paul ends the write up saying ’Aside from the Hellis Change, this routine now bears little resemblance do(sic) Dave’s creation.’ What utter nonsense, I don’t know how he can sleep at night.

Thoughts and Routine for Phil

This is a way of handling Trevor Duffies ’Phil Deck’ which allows you to use different names. For those not familiar with this effect, a deck of cards is set on a table. A spectator is asked to think of any playing card, and the magician says he will name it. After a moment, the performer declares, "The name of your card is Phil!" The pack is removed and then shown to have different names printed boldly on the back of every card. When the deck is turned face up and the card named by the spectator is found, it is the one and only card named Phil! Great trick, works with any card.

Paul thinks this has ’one major flaw. That is: Because the effect is so strong, the immediate reaction (from a laymen) is most likely to be that of wanting to inspect the deck for more ’Phil’s’. However, because you’ve already shown the back of the cards to be different, it’s not really a flaw at all. The second flaw paul has found is that ’the force card is always going to be Phil; and that’s not much good for a professional strolling/table performer. Why? Well, most ’pros’ will know that there are always ’dingleberries’ (irritating hangers-on) who follow you around. They will see ’Phil’ freely(?) chosen about twenty times a night.’ So, how has paul chosen to solve this problem? Well, instead of getting the spectator to think of a card, he brings out a second deck with numbers on it and gets them to ’select’ one (it will always be 8. Which has always been a totally transparent idea in my opinion, if you want someone to pick a number, why not just ask them to think of one, rather than selecting one from a second deck? It’s moronic. Also, this procedure doesn’t solve anything because now the ’dingleberries’ will see you forcing the number 8 over and over again. Just use the original handling, it’s far superior in method and effect. This idea of pauls is in my opinion, stupid.

The Muldoon Match

This is a one-ahead card matching effect along the same lines as Scarne’s ’Calling the Cards’ from Scarne on Card Tricks (no mention). This version needlessly uses a double backer in order to switch out the bum card. Ditch the double backer and use a top change, using a double backer for a trick as simple as this is ridiculous. Much better effects have appeared in print without the need to resort to a double backer.

The Eight of Diamonds Trick

This trick is almost as uninspired as its title. It’s a basic application of Ed Marlo’s ’Automatic Placement’ principle. There is a lot of redundant pile dealing and the ’effect’ amounts to little more than a pick a card and I find it trick.

Fry Them With Oil – And Water!

’This is one of my best ever efforts. I’m so pleased with this; I’m bursting! It is, to my mind, the cleanest Oil & Aces (Roy Walton) method. My handling is original in many ways; go compare with the rest”. Roy Walton’s Oil and QUEENS from the Devils Playthings is in my opinion a perfect trick and unless you change the entire approach and handling to come up with something decidedly different, there’s little if anything that can be changed to Roy’s original approach to improve it. Paul tries to tweak Roy’s effect and what results is a sloppy, ill thought out mess. Instead of getting straight to the point, paul faffs about with ascanio spreads, split displays and unnecessary and in some cases illogical proving phases. You can’t even display the ending cleanly as you are left with an extra card in the second packet. It’s a huge step back from Roy Walton’s original creation while at the same time staying dangerously close to the original handling. Only paul gordon could accomplish such a feat.

Faster Than TSOL Poker Stack (TSOL: The Speed of Light)

This is a standard fare pseudo poker demonstration using Harry Lorayne’s(?) Fast stack. There’s nothing new here or of note and it pales in comparison to Vernon’s ’Poker Demonstration’ from the $20 manuscript on which this is obviously based (no mention of course).

This is a very poor collection of 10 highly derivative and in some cases dull and boring card tricks. The writing style is poor and the crediting is worse. My opinion is to avoid at all cost! Unless you fancy a good laugh, or you’re feeling masochistic; stay well away.

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