It's a funny situation to be in sometimes. I performed for a small group of magicians recently, about a week later I get a call. 

The conversation went something like this.

-after pleasantries and greetings-

Them: "So, can I ask you a question about something specific?"

Me: "Sure, what's on your mind?"

Them: "That last card trick you did..."

Me: "You want to know how it's done?"

Them: "Well, (pause) yes, I can't quite piece it back together"

Me: "... I'd prefer not to, but if you really must know, sure we can talk about it."

The conversation didn't come around to the method for my little miracle again. But it did emphasize that a small bit of good information can go a long way.

So let's talk about "The Good Stuff" and where to find it.

I'm not going to get in to a detailed explanation of the difference between good and bad material. You need to develop a standard and draw a line that allows you to sleep well at night knowing you kept the good and pushed away the bad. 

First, read everything Vernon. Personally, I find Vernon has more brilliant usable ideas published than any other magician. His material is also the easiest to get ahold of. If you can't find miracles in Vernon, you will have a lot more trouble with other people's work.

After Vernon, look at some of the collected magazines, Ibidem has really odd stuff in it, but some is brilliant, The Legendary Heirophant has a ton of amazing stuff, The Chronicles, has a good variety, and you'll find some great ideas in The Pallbearer's Review. Any collected periodical book will have something worth learning. Kabala too, now that I think about it.

These are the more or less mainstream books. The last place I'll suggest is to find really credible publishing companies, Hermetic Press, Kaufman and Co., etc. Then look at their published works and find the ones that don't quite fit the norm. A book about someone you've never heard of for example, look at THOSE books. Read the descriptions. Often we ignore books because we don't know enough about the person it's written about, but discounting them can be very dangerous. You can lose on amazing unknown material and concepts.

Charles Jordan is another place to bury your head. Read everything you can find by him. Sometimes it's dry, and sometimes it's boring, but the principles are amazing, even if they aren't always used in the best tricks.

 Personally, I'd suggest trying to avoid the REALLY mainstream books by some of the biggest names with few exceptions. If they are still around in magic but aren't publishing material/books anymore, you probably want to read their stuff. Here is a shortlist: (Chris Kenner, Michael Weber, David Williamson, Derren Brown)

A few books always stand out to me as well. 

Greater Magic

The Fine Art Of Magic

Expert Card Technique

That's about it. Between Vernon, the periodicals, Charles Jordan, those few books, and the big names that aren't putting out books any more, you should have more material than you know what to do with. If you can't find miracles in those, perhaps you are looking for the wrong things...

Happy Hunting!

 

Everyone Is A Layman...

29 August 2014, Shane Cobalt

I am constantly searching for magic that fools everyone, magicians and laymen. But, the challenge is finding the material to fool both groups of people without sacrificing artistic integrity. 

In other words, I want my magic to be universally awesome for anyone watching it, but also at a high level. I won't be doing any sponge balls or ambitious card routines...

Back From Sweden!

27 August 2014, Shane Cobalt

What a wonderful trip! The last week or so was spent steeped in Magic.

The highlight being Stadra Theatre Festival: SimSalaBim!

An incredible 4 performer ensemble that performed 2 shows in the most beautiful setting and at an absolutely amazing theatre.

There's A Better Way.

19 August 2014, Shane Cobalt

I try to approach every trick, every presentation, everything I do with this attitude. There IS a better way.

While I'd love to assume that my work is the flawless final word, the truth is it's not. It probably never will be. But that is the beauty of the journey and that is what makes this magic thing interesting at times.