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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » The Collected Almanac - A review (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

mike greene
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Well, after months of arguing with myself, I took the plunge and invested in the Collected Almanac. For those who can't be bothered reading a long review, just rest assured that I'm not disappointed. Like everything that I've ever read from Richard Kaufman, it's top quality stuff. So without any ado at all, let's jump right into it :

PRICE = I picked this up for 42 British pounds. Now while this isn't exactly cheap for a book, I must say that I've paid a lot more for products that turned out to be excrement. If a book's worth the price tag, I certainly don't mind paying it, as I'm sure you wont, and the amount of the material, and the quality of said material, certainly means this book lives up to and exceeds the hype. Which leads me on to :

SIZE/QUALITY = The first thing you'll notice is that this is a big book. It's a hardback, and will lie flat easily, meaning you can read the descriptions and follow along with props in hand, without having to prop the book open. This is a small point, but a huge convenience if you do like to read through with cards etc in hand. There are 398 numbered pages, which means a lot of material to satisfy yourself with! There are also another hundred or so pages at the front, with comments from Mr Kaufman about the origins of the book, along with some effects that didn't make it into Richard's Almanac magazine. The first issue is actually repeated twice (including once in Japanese) which seems slightly pointless when reading through, but is a nice touch for the sake of completeness.

Of course, you don't care about all of this, so let's dive right into the good stuff!

THE EFFECTS :

Reading through the contents at the start of the book is justification enough for the money I spent on it. The list of contributors reads like a history of good close up magic. We have material from Dai Vernon, Slydini, Paul Harris, Jay Sankey, Derek Dingle, Michael Ammar, Larry Jennings, Brother Hammann, Michael Skinner, Lou Gallo, Ken Krenzel, Daryl, Roy Walton, J.K. Hartman, David Roth, Michael Weber, John Carney, and many more.
If that doesn't get you excited I would respectfully suggest that you give up magic and play tennis instead.

Many of the effects have been published elsewhere, but the majority first saw print in The Collected Alamanac, and almost all of them are very good effects. Of course, there are too many effects to do a thorough review of, so I'll just highlight a few of my personal favourites.

Digital Copper/Silver by David Roth - This is a standard copper/silver routine, but what sells the effect is that the spectator actually takes the coin from you and closes his fist around it before the change of the other coin.

Sonic Squeeze by Michael Ammar - A lovely bare handed four coin production, almost angle proof and perfect for performing under close up conditions.

New Pinky Rise by Friedhoffer - An updated version of the old 'pinky' rising card, but the new version looks exceptionally clean and seems to rule out the possibility of your fingers being used to rise the card.

H.P.c - C.P.H by Jay Sankey - The move that dragged coin magic out of the stone age, and had everyone talking when it appeared on his coin magic video appeared here first, along with several wonderful uses for it. Also included is Jay's palm up handling, which allows a dazzlingly clean transposition of two coins. If you have any doubts as to the cleanness of this move, try the C.P.H Wild Coin on an audience and see how they react.

Astro-Card by Larry Jennings - You place a card on the cardcase. A wave of the hand and the card vanishes, only to reappear in the case. Very clean, and only a very quick one-time preparation required.

Striking Glass by Michael Weber - Think of the classic coin in bottle effect. Now imagine doing it with a borrowed, signed coin and a borrowed bottle. No duplicate coins, the signed coin is really in the bottle at the end, and it can be done completely impromptu. Did I mention there are no switches involved? Sound good? It is.

Airtight by Jay Sankey - When David Copperfield performs an effect on one of his specials, you know it's good! A card is signed, and the deck is sucked into a balloon as you throw the deck onto the balloon. You inflate the balloon with the deck still inside and remove the selected card, all without damaging the balloon.

Cocktail Time by Dai Vernon - An absolute gem from the Professor, where a coin vanished and reappears under your drink, On repeating the effect the coin vanished, but appears underneath the napkin under the drink.

Once Torn, Twice Restored by Robert Stencel - Two spectators select cards, and the first one magically reverses in the deck. You turn it back over and say you'll find the other card, but when you spread the deck the first card is reversed again. This happens again, and in frustration you rip the card up and place it aside. When you spread the deck, the first card is reversed again! Turning over the torn pieces you display the second selection. Now, what if I said you could do this with a borrowed deck, and could hand back a full deck of 52 cards at the end?

CONCLUSION - This is a FANTASTIC book, if you haven't got it, get it! The only complaint I have is that the digs at Harry Lorayne throughout the book can get a bit tiresome, but don''t let this put you off. One of the best books of close-up magic I've ever had the pleasure to read.
ALL I NEED IS ONE LIFE, ONE TRY, ONE BREATH, I'M ONE MAN, WHAT I STAND FOR SPEAKS FOR ITSELF - NAS
Harry Lorayne
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Even with the silly digs - I agree. HL.

Posted: Jul 29, 2010 10:31am
Oh, obviously not anywhere as good as APOCALYPSE, and in one of the later issues, we even up on the "digs"!
[email]harrylorayne@earthlink.net[/email]

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http://www.harryloraynemagic.com
mike greene
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Harry, I place Apocalypse on a pedestal all by itself. If I ever have a few days off I might attempt to review it, but that's a lot of good stuff to try and write up!
ALL I NEED IS ONE LIFE, ONE TRY, ONE BREATH, I'M ONE MAN, WHAT I STAND FOR SPEAKS FOR ITSELF - NAS
Kamal
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I love both books equally, and put myself on a pedestal.
Vlad_77
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Richard Kaufman certainly put together an EXCELLENT journal. Of course, he had a hell of a teacher in terms of writing! Without Harry Lorayne, there would possibly have been no Richard's Almanac.

Mike, Even a cursory review of Apocalypse would take take a LOOONG time. You would need a month off I would think Smile Kudos on your Collected Almanac review! I was rather curious as to your omission of Bill Kalush's Rubber Ringer. Then again, you DID write that you were highlighting a few of your faves.

Both Apocalypse and Richard's Almanac turned me on to the works of the best out there. Before the Collected Almanac, I had never really had any real exposure to guys like Michael Skinner and Roger Klause. Apocalypse really got me into David Regal, Doug Edwards, Randy Wakeman, and Richard Vollmer.

These two compilations are, I believe, ESSENTIAL reading.

Namaste,
Vlad

PS: Mike, I see you are from Manchester. I think that the great UK journals are not given enough attention. I have toyed with the idea of doing reviews of Pabular, The Gen, The Wizard, Magigram, The Magic Wand, Spellbinder, Val Andrews' Magic Magazine, and others. But how does one review these mammoth compilations??!!! The Magic Wand is ESPECIALLY scary in this respect because it ran as long as The Sphinx did (50+ years) and is just as important. Unfortunately, there is no overriding index to The Magic Wand. I find myself stumbling upon treasure after treasure, and I wish there WAS an index, but, after reading Chris Wasshuber's account of the 500 page index he and his company did for The Sphinx, I don't think I would attempt a Magic Wand index.
mike greene
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Vlad,

Firstly, sorry for the late reply. Things have been hectic, new job etc.

Secondly, there's a simple reason for the omission from the review of Bill Kalush's 'Rubber Ringer.' When I got the book, I was blown away by both the amount of, and quality of, the material. Even a cursory glance at the names of the contributors made my head dizzy. I HAD to write a review. I was so excited to write the review (my first review in fact) that I kind of speed read the book for things that caught my eye and being more of a card/coin guy, the things I pulled out tended to be card or coin items. Basically, I overlooked it in haste. But as you rightly say, its a gem (albeit a gem amongst a treasure chest full of gems!). For those reading who aren't familiar with this effect, get familiar with it. I promised you won't regret it.

Vlad, I'm almost ashamed to make this admission, being a proud Englishman, but I'm woefully ignorant of most of the great UK magic journals. In my defence, I'm only 20 years old, and there is an abundance of magic literature to get through. After acquiring quite a thorough collection of the classic volumes (Hugard, Bobo, Vernon, Slydini, Erdnase, Le Paul etc), I'v only recently began to look through the old magazine collections. Fortunately I was pointed towards The Collected Almanac and Apocalypse, and so it might be a while before I get on to anything else!

It's refreshing to hear the UK magic scene, whether old or new, being spoken of in such glowing terms. I often wish I'd been born at a different time, when the greats were plying their trade. Of course today there are very talented magicians from these shores making big ripples in the magic pool, Michael Vincent being the most prominent (an absolute credit to his craft - what a gentleman.)

Which of the UK journals would you suggest to start with Vlad?

MIKE
ALL I NEED IS ONE LIFE, ONE TRY, ONE BREATH, I'M ONE MAN, WHAT I STAND FOR SPEAKS FOR ITSELF - NAS
motown
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The book is filled with great magic. I only wish the type had been reset in the sections that needed it. I've always hated reading small typewritter type.

That said this is great value for the money.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
– Karl Germain
Vlad_77
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Mike,

In response to your question, I would, without reservation, suggest Pabular as THE perfect UK journal to investigate. It ran from 1974-1989 so it was concurrent with a number of great American magic journals including but not limited to The Pallbearer's Review, The Chronicles, Epilogue, Richard's Almanac, and Apocalypse.

The names in Pabular will make you just as dizzy as those you have found in Richard's Almanac and would find in Apocalypse. Magicians from both sides of the Atlantic as well as greats from the continent contributed GREAT magic to this magazine.

Namaste,
Vlad
mike greene
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Thanks for the information Vlad, I think my next payday may see a few new publications arriving on my doorstep!

Is the Pabular available as a hardbound collection like The Almanac or Apocalypse, and is it widely available? You've got my interest aroused.

MIKE
ALL I NEED IS ONE LIFE, ONE TRY, ONE BREATH, I'M ONE MAN, WHAT I STAND FOR SPEAKS FOR ITSELF - NAS
octave
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Hi Mike it seems that the hardbound edition of Pabular had some legal issues so I suggest you get the Digital Pabular (costs $40-50). Can be ordered through Martin Bresse.
mike greene
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Thanks Octave, I'll have to check it out,

MIKE
ALL I NEED IS ONE LIFE, ONE TRY, ONE BREATH, I'M ONE MAN, WHAT I STAND FOR SPEAKS FOR ITSELF - NAS
LarsA
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I love this book.
Fabulous tricks; and Richard's unique take on the magic scene at the time.

Oh, I love Apocalypse too!
hbwolkov
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I was able to find a very nice edition on The Café a few years ago. This represented a very fortunate purchase. This a well formatted, very approachable book filled with great effects.
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