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Topic: Review: Card Cavalcade series by Jerry Mentzer
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Oct 15, 2011 10:01AM)
Yeah, we can dispense with the "Vlad is out of his mind" comments; we all know that. ;) But really it WOULD seem that my cheese has slipped off my cracker because I am offering a review of - dare I say it - "old" books! I mean what use are THEY. Really Vlad, you need to get a life!

Okay I will get a life but until then ...

Recently on The Café (if you read this review aloud, please intone the beginning phrase as Wolf Blitzer might) there was discussion about card to wallet and card to box effects. So being the innocent dude I am I had suggested a routine from Mentzer's Card Cavalcade series. I had also written - but did not graphemically intone - that if anyone wanted the citation to the effect to PM me. I was rather happy that I received quite a few and then I remembered that I had mentioned effects from this five volume series quite a few times over the years here on our august Café. I also remembered that I had received PMs about the books asking for more information on the set itself. I was rather surprised as I had thought these would have been mainstays in most magic libraries. Maybe they are to some. But I sense these need to be revisited.

I bought mine nine years ago while a demonstrator at the Cuckoos' Nest in Pittsburgh. Linda keeps a tight shop but these books were forgotten and rather dusty. So naturally I HAD to have them because oft times dusty books are a GOOD thing: it means that few people actually have interest in them. So, without further ado and insipid Wolf Blitzer comments I present my less than Jamy Ian Swiss quality review of Jerry Mentzer's Card Cavalcade set! Gather the kids around the radio and I promise the review won't run into the Fibber McGee and Molly Show! (Note: I am still using the crystal set but may just load the missus into the Packard when I get a missus and drive into town to get one of them new-fangled "FM" radios. Oh happy day).

Card Cavalcade is a series of five books published between 1972-1979 by Jerry Mentzer. The set weighs in at 1104 pages but these are smaller books so you won't get a hernia by carrying all five like you would with all four Apocalypse volumes or the Stewart James books. I'll get to the magic in a minute but to save eye damage to those people who want flashy production values I will address those first so that said people can go back to the smexxy flexxy purty stuff. The typeset is literally typed! Yes siree, good old Times Roman in all of its typewriter ribbon glory! The illustrations are serviceable though not as flashy as Richard Kaufman's great work when he used to illustrate nor are they as meticulous as those of the master Joseph K. Schmidt. Some of the effects are illustrated with black and white photographs which get the job done but won't win the Photoshop graphic freshness award.

Okay now that the folks who believe that the only GOOD magic comes in nausea inducing camera angles of a kid pretending to look tough in a tough neighborhood which is really a back garden with not so fun graffiti we can talk about the good stuff!

Here is a list of SOME of the names of the contributors. I like lists because as a child I had a dream of making a book of lists someday and achieving fame and attracting chicks. To my dismay I later learned that such books WERE written and chicks don't dig 'em. *Sigh* (ed. note: It's not the lists that "chicks" don't like, Vlad. It's YOU).

Right, whatever ...

Peter Kane, Ian Baxter, Paul Swinford, John Quine, Tony Kardyro, J.K. Hartman, Horace Bennett, Walt Rollins, Eddie Fechter, Nick Trost, Gerald Kosky, Larry West, Jim Lee, Mike Rogers, Dan Tong, Syd Bergson, Tony Binarelli, Karl Fulves, Bruce Cervon, J.G. Thompson, Jack Chanin, Vic Trabucco, Paul Diamond, Roy Walton, Jeff Busby, Bill Miesel, Rick Johnsson, Alex Elmsely, Charles Jordan, Jack Avis, John Mendoza, A. Berkeley Davis, Barry Govan, Phil Goldstein (Max Maven to you young'uns), Tom Gagnon, Roger Klause, Jerry Mentzer and more.

Nice list I'd say!!

The books are packed with very cool magic and a ton of sleights and variants that are off the beaten path. (Why do people beat paths? Paths seem rather innocuous to me). Obviously this is a large collection and to name all of the effects and sleights I feel are standouts would crash Mr. Brooks' server. So, I will make another short list just for fun.

Peter Kane's Jazz Aces is in there plus some very cool variants from others. Russ Burns has a section in the fifth volume with a nice mixture of routines and sleights including Signature Transpo, The Cradle Pass (a rather cool pass that my ex-missus LOVED), Psychological Card in Wallet, and a slew of other stuff too. Want some more? (ed. note: NO). Okay cool here's MORE: Walton's Universal, Disguised Water, Klause's Bottom Palm, Cutting the Kings, Kelly's Bottom Up (if you like the KBP, you will love this effect), Turn Me Over (Tenkai Palm goodness based upon ideas from Tenkai and Marlo and quite cool), All Backs Plus, The Sweeper Awakes, and, oh you get the point: there is a LOT of stuff to be explored in this set.

While many of the routines are simply excellent FASDIU workers, the REAL fun stuff can be found in the unassuming sections titled "Information." I have found so many useful and practical approaches to sleights and other methodologies in these sections that I think Mr. Mentzer could recompile these sections into a separate book; they are THAT good.

Many magicians have stated quite emphatically that if you want to keep a routine secret in magic, then publish it. The Card Cavalcade set represents that hidden in plain sight maxim quite wonderfully. My love for these books is based upon the very unscientific "Vlad test." You see, many people state that if you can get one idea or one good effect out of a book then your money was well invested. My test is a bit more esoteric. When I open a book to research something and I end up getting excited over five completely different bits of information that have no bearing on what I was originally researching then the book passes the test.

I was nary a thought in the mind of the cosmos when these books were written but WOW am I glad I found these under some dust in the early 2000s. You folk that DO have the set already know what treasures await but for those who do not have these, I would strongly urge you to consider them. They might not be Ellusion11-flashy cool looking but it's the magic that counts and you will not be disappointed in this fantastic collection.

Available at http://www.magicmethodsonline.com/cbooks.html

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: Jim Oliver (Oct 16, 2011 10:49AM)
Hello Vlad,

I bought my copy's of these classics way back when I was about 19 or 20 years old.
Had to wrench them away from a T-Rex!

These are all first editions and I only have C.C.2, 3 and 4. Also have Magician Nitely
(yes that it how it was spelled) The Magic of Eddie Fechter.

Great books that really bring back memories of some of the most advanced card magic of the
day! I have enjoyed reviewing these books again and again over the years even if I don't
use the material currently.

I will never part with them.

Jim
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Oct 16, 2011 02:22PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-16 11:49, Jim Oliver wrote:
Hello Vlad,

I bought my copy's of these classics way back when I was about 19 or 20 years old.
Had to wrench them away from a T-Rex!

These are all first editions and I only have C.C.2, 3 and 4. Also have Magician Nitely
(yes that it how it was spelled) The Magic of Eddie Fechter.

Great books that really bring back memories of some of the most advanced card magic of the
day! I have enjoyed reviewing these books again and again over the years even if I don't
use the material currently.

I will never part with them.

Jim
[/quote]

Hi Jim,

I am happy that someone responded concerning these books! They are WORTH wrestling from a T-Rex. BTW, it seems I may have run across your name somewhere in the literature.

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: Jim Oliver (Oct 16, 2011 02:39PM)
Vlad,

I'm sure that my name is not in any magic literature, but I do hang out in the Workers section
of the Magic Café. You and I have chatted before.

Jim
Message: Posted by: M Petersen (Oct 16, 2011 05:40PM)
Hi Vlad,

I LOVE review of old books. I get to go through the used section and pull them out to page through. I have been meaning to put some reviews up of books I am going through. I am working on the Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields right now. Some fun stuff in there. Thanks again for the review!!

Marshall
H & R Magic Books
http://www.magicbookshop.com
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Oct 16, 2011 10:38PM)
[quote]
On 2011-10-16 18:40, M Petersen wrote:
Hi Vlad,

I LOVE review of old books. I get to go through the used section and pull them out to page through. I have been meaning to put some reviews up of books I am going through. I am working on the Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields right now. Some fun stuff in there. Thanks again for the review!!

Marshall
H & R Magic Books
http://www.magicbookshop.com
[/quote]

Hi Marshall!

My pleasure. I look forward to your reviews! The Eddie Fields book is certainly a classic and I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. I know you are busy but truly you have the coolest gig in the world: to be able to be around these classics would be a dream come true for me! You guys could hire me and I would work for lunch money just to write about these books :)

Jim,

Yes we have chatted before and I know you are quite knowledgeable and it's always a privilege to correspond, but I really thought that I saw your name in a journal or book. Well, take it as a compliment to your magical acumen my friend!

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: Dr. JK (Oct 17, 2011 08:56AM)
Wow, great review, Vlad! Are you going to do more?! I enjoyed the humor interwoven throughout. :)
Message: Posted by: motown (Oct 17, 2011 10:42PM)
Thanks for another fine review. I have all of Jerry's Close-up books, but never got around to picking up any of card books you reviewed. May have to change that.
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Oct 18, 2011 10:04AM)
Thanks everyone, I am truly flattered and humbled.

@Jeff: Hi bud, it's a tough call because so many of the "old" books are classics and I do not want to review books that should be obvious. Case in point was a thread a few weeks ago in which a user asked why Greater Magic was so important. I offered a rather detailed explanation which I hope answered his question. But to review such a towering classic almost seems a waste of bandwidth. I would wager that a nice majority of magicians here know that Greater Magic is, well, "great." ;) The Mentzer books on the other hand seemed a safe bet because it seemed to me that relative to other excellent works in the literature they were rarely discussed. I for one am excited about Marshall's upcoming review of The Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields.

I am guessing that most of you remember efforts by David Regal and Dustin Stinnett to offer capsule reviews of magic's great books. I really liked these a lot but it seems that both columns kind of fell by the wayside. I know that Dustin Stinnett was doing a Book of the Month thread at the Genii forums but I haven't visited there in a while. Perhaps I should just to see if he is still doing it.

Finally, I am unsure if there is a demand for such a thing. I would think that a review of Jack Avis' book Vis a Vis might be interesting, but I ALSO think that a review of The Secrets of Brother John Hamman would be a waste because the book is so widely discussed.

Thanks again everyone, but the real thanks goes to Jerry Mentzer in this case for putting together a real treasure trove of fantastic magic.

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: motown (Oct 18, 2011 11:00AM)
Magic Magazine has a couple of side bars each issue on classic books from the past.
While they're not indepth reviews of the books, they do give a taste of the importance of each.
Message: Posted by: Rimbaud (Oct 18, 2011 04:10PM)
A great review of one of my favorite collections of books. I practically wore them out back when I was in high school. (Around 1982.) Since then, I still find myself using material from there regularly. Particularly "Surprise Collectors" by Jim Surprise, has been an absolute stable of my repertoire.

Great books!
Message: Posted by: ehands (Dec 3, 2011 12:13PM)
I just recieved Jack Avis' book "Vis a Vis" last night. I was already sleepy, but thought I'd browse into it just to see why I ordered and what was in store for later.
I only looked at two tricks and had to stop browsing and start practicing both. This is going to be fun!
I hope Vlad doesreview.
Message: Posted by: Magicmike1949 (Dec 3, 2011 10:51PM)
Glad to see Jim Surprise mentionned here. He was my mentor and an excellent cardman, a longtime member of F.F.F.F. Also check out his work on cutting the Aces in this series that Vlad has so properly highlighted.
Message: Posted by: Cameron Francis (Dec 4, 2011 08:39AM)
Thanks for the great review, Vlad.

BTW, the site you posted at the end of your review looks like it has some amazing books but the format is weird. The further down you scroll on the page, the bigger the font gets! Quite disorienting. :)
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Dec 12, 2011 01:42PM)
[quote]
On 2011-12-04 09:39, Cameron Francis wrote:
Thanks for the great review, Vlad.

BTW, the site you posted at the end of your review looks like it has some amazing books but the format is weird. The further down you scroll on the page, the bigger the font gets! Quite disorienting. :)
[/quote]

I have been trying to get in touch with Jerry Mentzer and volunteer to fix it or at least let him know that the coding is whacked. So far no answer, just a ringing phone.

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: KyleMacNeill (Dec 29, 2011 12:54PM)
I really hope I can get my hands on Vol.1! :)
Message: Posted by: apple123 (Dec 30, 2011 07:29AM)
Try Byron Walker. He might have a copy.
Message: Posted by: KyleMacNeill (Dec 30, 2011 08:57AM)
Thanks for the idea - but sadly it seems like he doesn't :(
Message: Posted by: J Christensen (Dec 30, 2011 08:58AM)
Thanks for the enjoyable review, Vlad. Rimbaud mentioned "Surprise Collectors", which I have used for years. It is a great effect and has quite an impact on an audience. Jim Surprise's ace trick is another good one. I think Paul Diamond's "How About That!" is in there somewhere. It is a packet trick I used quite a bit in the 1970. I bought these when they first came out and am glad to have them in my collection.
Message: Posted by: magicfish (Sep 11, 2013 05:27AM)
I have vol. 2,3, and finale. Still looking for 1and 4
Message: Posted by: Steve Hook (Sep 12, 2013 01:25AM)
I hope this doesn't make anybody mad.....but check out the Bob King material. [shhhhh...]
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Sep 12, 2013 06:38AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-12 02:25, Steve Hook wrote:
I hope this doesn't make anybody mad.....but check out the Bob King material. [shhhhh...]
[/quote]

Nice call Steve! I actually first encountered Bob King's work in Best of Friends. Really good stuff as you know!

I see that it's been two years since I wrote that review and I still feel the same about Card Cavalcade. If a reader cannot find at least 40 useful effects or sleights in this 5 volume series I would consider going so far as to purchase the set from that person and resell them at at a LOSS to me to another magician who would certainly appreciate these treasures - and I'm a poor grad student living for now in another country so the loss would be significant, but, the gain for me at least would be that I turned somebody on to a set of books that deserve far more discussion than they receive.

Best,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: Steve Hook (Sep 21, 2013 12:01AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-12 02:25, Steve Hook wrote:
I hope this doesn't make anybody mad.....but check out the Bob King material. [shhhhh...]
[/quote]

Sorry for the error but the Bob King material is in Jerry Mentzer's CARD FILE. Thanks for bringing up the Mentzer books, Vlad!
Message: Posted by: Moonstone76 (Oct 4, 2013 04:54PM)
Vlad, thanks for the review. Thanks to it I took the books from my magic shelf, started to seriously study them, rediscovering a real pot of treasures!
Unfortunately I haven'th the 4th volume of the series and Jerry himself has no copies left.....
Is there anyone selling it?