Session by Joshua Jay
Session by Joshua Jay
The Official Spam-
This book is geared toward magicians (sorry normal people) and details the magic of an incredible talent: Joel Givens. He's also a longtime friend.
We bucked all the trends and did something very different. You see, for nearly five hundred years, magic has been conveyed "recipe style" in books. Tricks are a list of materials and steps to follow. But can a magic book tell a story?
Session is my answer. It's not for everyone, and I'm sure there will be readers who can't be bothered with plot and context. But for those who have always wanted to curl up with a magic book and just read, I think Session will be a welcome addition.
Each trick is set within a scene; protagonists, antagonists, hecklers, and a cute waitress; it's all here, and it's all explained.
Well, I woke up Christmas morning, and opened my presents until I only had one left. Earlier I had opened up Generation Extreme by Brian Tudor, which was one of the bonuses, so I knew that this last one had to be magic. Inside the box was Gazzo's Tossed Out Deck (expect a review later or tomorrow) and the book I'm reviewing... Session by Joshua Jay. I was really excited about both, and dove right into my new material.
This book, the best book I've read in a while magic or otherwise, is very, very fun to read. Yes, it's a magic book, but it's not nearly as dry and boring as others. It is set up as a story, as Josh meets his friend Joel Givens at a pub in South Carolina, who shows Josh his awesome, original magic, then explains it. The book is filled with great effects, and even better stories as the pair perform for different people at the pub.
I think this is a very high quality book, and more than worth the price of $30. It is on that glossy paper, so it's very durable and hard to ruin, with black and white photos throughout walking you through each step of the effect. The book comes with a book sleeve to keep around it, which has the standard tiny biography of both Joel and Josh on the front and back sleeves.
This book is about 275 pages long, including the index, notes, photos, and all that. However, because it is such an entertaining read, you will probably read through it all in one sitting like I did. Honestly, the time flew by while I was reading it. I read it twice over the past week, and I'll probably end up reading it again within the next two weeks or so.
By the term "written quality", I mean how well the book was written. I think Josh did a fantastic job with this book, because not only did he describe the effects and their methods really well, but he included detailed stories of the performances, what the people and surroundings were like, and pretty much all of the dialogue that went on.
The magician, preferably sitting in a restaurant or coffee shop, reaches forward and pulls out a packet of Sweet 'n Low. He explains that, as a promotion, every tenth packet they sell will include a free stirrer for the customer's convenience. He tears open the packet, reaches inside with two fingers, and pulls out a 4-5 inch long coffee stirrer. Then, to make things even more interesting, he patters about how they also made them collapsible. Upon these words, he reaches onto the table, picks it up, and shrinks it down to about an inch.
I really, really like this effect, and I think it's absolutely perfect for when you're in a coffee shop or restaurant that sells coffee. Obviously, it won't work for a show, but for certain situations, I think it can be absolutely devastating. It requires a little bit of setup, which can be done under the table you're sitting at in less than a minute, and everything is fairly examinable at the end of the effect. There are no gimmicks you have to make or carry around with you, either.
Cup O' Joel-
Joel picks up a little thing of coffee creamer, pops open the lid, and pours about half of it into his fist. He then tells Josh that it he has turned the creamer invisible, and as saying so, he opens his hand above his cup of coffee as if pouring something out... nothing comes out... the creamer has indeed turns invisible. Then, to the both mine and Josh's amazement, as Joel stirs the coffee, creamer starts to appear and mix in with the coffee! However, it was all just an illusion, and as the creamer "cup" is examined, it is found to be perfectly sealed.
Upon first reading the description of this effect, the first thing that came to my mind is TT... I was dead wrong. This is one of those effects where the method, nearly self working, is almost as cool as the trick. It uses a little bit of science, but in a very good way. Spectators will never guess it's basically self working, though. It does, obviously require a bit of setup, but can easily be done while your spectator is using the restroom... Joel set it up while Josh was going to the bathroom! I like this one, but rarely ever drink coffee, so I don't know if I'll ever use it or not.
Speaking about always being asked if he can cheat or not, Joel produces the four Aces in a pretty straight-forward way... cutting right to them. Then, each Ace is inserted into the pack, no crimps, breathers, short cards... just inserted fairly, then cut again. Then, holding the Aces in his hand, he waves them over the pack and shows that the pile consists only of the Ace of Spades, and the other three Aces are back on their piles. "So," Joel explains, "whenever I think I think I'm being cheated, I have a way to stop it." As he is saying this, he pulls out a little laser pointer from his pocket and points at the pile, inviting Josh to try and cheat. Josh picks up the piles, and is very surprised to find that they are solid blocks... they can't be separated.
My feelings toward this effect are mixed. I think it can be a very strong effect, when played out right, and it is pretty simple, but I'm just not "attracted" to it as I thought I would be. It obviously takes a bunch of preparation to make the blocks of cards, but once made, they will last you forever. It does use one switch, but that's it, and it's not as difficult as you might think. The effect, overall, I think is a great one, but I can't see myself using it on a regular basis.
A woman, who has been sitting behind Joel and Josh the whole time, reading a book, is invited to the table by Joel, who takes out his business card and asks the woman to stick the card inside her book anywhere she would like. She then sticks it in, decides she wants to change, and puts it in a different spot. The book is then opened up, and she is instructed to look at the first word on the page. She does, commits it to memory, and the book is closed. This is all done while Joel has is head turned. Joel takes the business cards, and writes something down on it. It is revealed to be what appears to be a bunch of scratchings, which don't look anything like a word. However, Joel is prepared and he pulls out a mirror, which is used to reflect the business card, and reveal the chosen word.
This is another one of those effects that doesn't really require much effort on your part, especially since you use the mirror... it takes a lot of thinking out of the effect (owners of the book will know what I'm talking about). The actual effect requires no skill or sleights at all... all you have to be able to do is write down a word. You need something that you won't normally have on you, and you may have to buy (it's only about $1.50), but once you buy it, it should last you a long time, if not forever.
Matches All Gone-
At about 7 o'clock, Joel decides to show the waitress an effect, pulling out a matchbook, and showing around the matches. The matchbook is placed inside the waitresses' hand, and Joel hands her a straw from the table. The waitress, who we'll call Emily for ease of explanation, waves the straw over her hand, and the matches from the matchbook disappear, only to reappear inside the sealed straw!
Obviously, this effect will probably get really strong reactions, as things normally do when you do the magic in the spectator's hands. I also think the fact that the spectator is holding the props with with the magic is done pretty much the entire time, it just makes the effect that much stronger. This effect requires a little bit of preparation, and a little bit of a "gimmick" to make the matches disappear, but, like most gimmicked effects in this book, once it is done it will last you a long time, and won't take very long to setup from then on out."Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it."
This is just a nice Ace production in which you swivel cut the deck, and with a wave of your hands, the four Aces are face up in your hands... two for each pile you are holding (one pile in each hand). It's nice, and I'll end up using it. Tiny bit of setup, pretty easy to perform.Sponge Aces-
Joel removes the four Aces from the pack and sets them face down on the table. He then invites Josh to name a pair of cards... in this case the Black Sixes. The pair is removed from the pack, and also set on the table. Josh is given the the Aces, and Joel takes the Black Sixes. With just a wave, the Aces are in Joel's hands, and Josh has the Black Sixes.
This effect is given the name it has because someone once commented that the effect is "like sponge balls, except with cards". I really like the premise of the effect, but I have found it hard to pull off because of the thickness of the two packets. The sleights I have absolutely no problem with, it's just the spectators noticing the difference in thickness of the two packets where I run into trouble. However, I do like it, and hopefully one day I'll be able to pull it off!
Givens on Hofzinser-
Joel spreads the cards fairly and asks Josh to select one. He even offers him a chance to change his mind and select a different card, but Josh stays with the one he has, the Seven of Spades. The Aces are once again used, and this part is the standard Hofzinser Aces ending... the Ace of Spades is found "facedown" in the pile, but is revealed to be the selection, with the Ace of Spaces face up in the pack. However, there is a slight kicker... Josh picked the only Spade in the deck... the rest were all in Joel's pocket.
Meh. That's all I really have to say about this effect. I like the overall premise, like I said in the last effect, but something about it just doesn't "do it" for me. I can see a lot of people using this very well, though.
As Joel and Josh walk to the bar, Joel decides it's time to clean his ears, so he pulls out a Q-Tip and begins cleaning out his ears. When Josh asks what he's doing, he simply continues by shoving the Q-Tip right into his ear, all the way, then back out.
I don't consider this an effect that can really stand on its own, but I think it makes a great little gag in-between effects. For example, you could use this as a filler in that awkward, silent time when the spectator is shuffling and examining the deck. Imagine the laughs you would get if you just pulled out a Q-Tip and started cleaning your ears... then imagine all the gasps as it is shoved into your brain. As a little reminder, I DO NOT recommend trying this on children, as they may try to imitate you. I was foolish enough to show my two little brothers, but I realized my mistake early and I showed them how it works, and warned them to never try to really shove a Q-Tip in my ear. Bad decision to show them the effect, but what's done is done.
Joel, invited to do a close-up performance by one of his old high school friends, hands out the deck to be shuffled. He then deals the cards onto six people's hands, then puts big piles on top of those, eliminating the possibility of a key card. Then, he has each member select a card from their pile, and cut it into the rest of the pile they're holding. An audience member then reassembles the packets in any order they want. Then Joel takes the cards back, and asks who's card he should find first. He spreads through the pack, outjogs a card, and reveals it to be the selection. For the next one, he outjogs a card, asks if it was the *insert random card name here*, and when the spectator says no, Joel says good, and reveals it to be the right card. For the third selection, Joel spreads the pack across the table, and hovers his fingers above it, moving side to side across the pack, inviting the spectator to call out stop whenever they would like. When they say stop, he puts his finger down, right on top of their card. He then turns over the top card, under the impression that it is the next selection. However, when told it is wrong, he takes it off the deck, blows on it, and reveals it to be the right card. Now, for the most impressive revelation, I feel, he spells out the next spectator's name... the last card being the selection. The deck is spread on the table, and then Joel realizes he forgot one. He picks up the deck and begins thumbing through it, when he hears giggles... he left one card on the table; the selection.
I absolutely love this effect, and the fact that he was able to find each spectator's card on command (the audience chose whose card was next) in a pack that was assembled in any order by an audience member really threw me off guard. You can use any revelations that you want, but I like the ones he use, so I'll probably stick to them for now. This effect definitely gets an A+ in my book.
Joel, sitting across from Josh at the bar, displays four coins in one hand, and none in the other. The coins then began to travel from one hand to the other, one by one, except on the last coin, revealed that all the coins were back where the started, with the other one empty. To simplify things, Joel gets rid of three of the coins so he only has one. Slowly and surely, he pushes his finger through the center of the coin... apparently it looked like liquid. As he removed his finger, the coin healed up, but what was impressive was that his hands were empty during the whole thing. He then repeated the effect, and then caused the coin to vanish.
Seeing as how I'm not really a coin guy, and I don't really want to invest in a Karate Coin just so I can perform this every once in a while, this one's probably not for me. However, I can see how it would make a great effect for the "coin-savvy", and would be beautiful as you slowly push your finger through the coin.
Most of us are probably fairly familiar with the tearing of the corner off a dollar bill and handing it to the spectator as a "receipt". Well, this is how this one starts. However, it gets interesting when the bill is put into the other fist and moved around so you can hear it. Then, you open your fist to reveal that the dollar has changed into a straw wrapper. And in the cup of straws, there is a straw without a wrapper... and inside that straw is a dollar with a corner missing... the corner that the spectator is holding.
I'm absolutely crazy about this effect, and I can't wait until I have the right conditions so that I can perform it. You only need an extra dollar and wrapped, clear straws. Definitely one of the best effects in this book... IMHO, of course.
More Memory Man-
When Dave the bartender asks Joel to teach him to cheat at Texas Hold 'Em, Joel takes the soggy, old deck from the man, and asks Dave to shuffle it up for him (Joel's back is turned), take the top card, and, without looking at it, place it into his pocket. Dave cheats and looks at the card, but it really doesn't matter that much in this effect. Then Dave selects a card (Seven of Spades), peeks at it, shows it to Josh, and replaces it in the deck. Joel spreads through the cards as Dave keeps time, and Joel supposedly memorized the deck in six seconds. He asks the name of the card, and upon learning it was the Seven of Spades, he calls out the number 14. He deals down 14 cards, and reveals the Seven there. But further yet, he called out the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth cards... all correct. He then tells Dave that he actually memorized the entire pack, and to prove it, he spreads the deck, turns over a card in the middle, and reveals the next card. He then repeats this procedure with two other cards. He then says he notices one card was missing, and asks Dave to remove the Queen from the pocket... he was right. Then he says since they already have one Queen, it's handy to know the other Queens are at 26, 32, and 41. He quickly cuts the deck three times and reveals the three other Queens.
This is one of the few effects in the book I can't see myself using... it's just not me. However, this does make a great effect, it's impromptu, and, as Joel Givens puts it, when spectators asks you about cheating with cards, there's nothing stronger."Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it."
It's a Tie-
Three people select cards, and three people put their cards, which had been noted, back into the deck. Joel asks a spectator with a watch to keep time, and he begins doing fancy cuts. At 27 seconds, he calls out stop, and turns over the top card... it is the first selection. He explains that he's going to try to beat his former time and the clock starts again. He simply removes the card from the top of the deck and calls out stop (2 seconds). It is turned over to reveal that it has transformed into the next spectator's cards. He then says it'll be hard to beat his former time, but he can sure tie it, and the last card is revealed to be clipped inside of his tie bar.
I really like this effect, and the display of the three cards at the end, but the only problem I have with it is that I don't ever wear a tie, and therefore I don't wear a tie bar, so it's a little bit on the difficult side for me to perform this effect. But for those of you that normally wear a tie and a tie bar to work or whatever... it'd be perfect for you!
So there's this guy at Joel's performance, Jamie, who is heckling Joel like crazy... being a real jerk. So, Joel stops him. Jamie selects a card, looks at it, and then Joel takes it back and shows it to the rest of the cards. The deck is offered to Jamie to shuffle up, which he does. However, when Joel takes the deck back, he finds that the cards are completely messed up... face up and face down! The audience gets mad at Jamie for trying to mess Joel up, but Joel continues. He rights the deck, and one card flies out of the pack, but Jamie insists that it's not his card. However, the rest of the audience swears that it is, and tells him to stop being an @sshole. However, Joel accepts the fact that, for once, the heckler may be telling the truth, so he asks what Jamie thinks his card was. But, that card is revealed to have been in the magician's pocket the whole time.
I know there will be a lot of mixed feelings about this effect, but I personally love it. However, I really can't see myself using it, unless someone is heckling me really bad. I can think of at least three instances off the top of my head where this would have been a relief, and probably would have got the heckler out of the audience, though. I don't know if I will ever use it, but it's a handy thing to have in my arsenal... just in case. :wink:
Joel performs this effect for a little girl (yes, in a bar!) with Snoopy cards. He starts off by writing down a prediction on a small Magnadoodle (a modern day Etch-a-Sketch) and setting it down on the table so nobody can see it. Then, he gives the little girl (Samantha) a pack of Snoopy cards and asks her to start dealing down the cards, stop wherever she likes, look at the card she stopped on, and put it back in the deck. Her mother does this for her because she doesn't do anything, and she lands on the 4 of Spades. Joel's prediction on the Magnadoodle is turned over and shown to be "4 of S".
I like this effect, but I can't see myself using it much, as I don't perform for children very much, and it would seem a bit silly using a Magnadoodle and Snoopy cards while performing for adults or teenagers my age. But the actual effect I love.
The Human Slot Machine-
Joel, performing for some of his cousin's clients, explains that people often make the mistake that since he's a magician, he does well in Vegas... but nothing is further from the truth. He tells a story about how he went to Vegas and decided to try his luck on the slot machines. He pulls out a dime, a penny, and a quarter. He uses his fist for a slot machine, and a pen for the "lever". The penny goes in, the lever is pulled, but he loses (penny disappears. The same happens with the dime. However, when he puts the quarter in and pulls the lever, about 20 quarters pour out of his fist and overflow out of the shot-glass he's putting them into. And, just for the record... this is all with his sleeves up and his hands open and in clear view the whole time!
This is a cool effect, but unfortunately, I can't use the great patter about the slot machines, seeing as how I'm only 15, and therefore it would seem very odd if I pattered about my trip to the Vegas slot machines. You will require another magic item for this effect, but it's a very simple one, and the only hard part is the production of the 20 quarters at the end, and it's really not that hard. Very good effect, and a great presentation to along with it.
During his performance, a woman asks Joel about an effect where a magician borrowed her ring, and it disappeared and reappeared on his key chain. Joel, always thinking on the spot, borrowed her ring, made it disappear, and found it to be hanging on his watch... on the inside. He actually had to take it off to get the ring off.
I like this effect, but not all watches will work with this. You should be able t use most watches, but ones with fabric, flimsy, or wide straps will not work. My watch, for one, does not work with this, so I can't perform it right now, but I would like to be able to someday.
Joel patters on about how when you open a pack of cards and some cards are missing, it's actually because cards eat other cards. As he says this he removes the four Kings, and "feeds" two other cards to them, causing them to disappear. "However," he says, "when the Kings don't have other cards to eat, they often turn on themselves and start snacking." At this point, Joel turns over the Kings to show that there was a small, bite sized white area on the corners of each of the Kings... it really looks like there was a bite taken out of them. However, the real twist came when Joel raised the deck to his mouth, and took a big bite out of it... revealing the corners of the cards missing, as if he had really just bitten the deck.
To be quite honest with you, I would love to perform this effect, but right now I don't want to take the time to make the deck and the Kings. I just have no desire to make anything magic-related at the moment. I'm sure that will all change in the next few weeks, though.
Collectors for Collectors-
Joel's collectors routine is pretty basic, but it has a pretty nice dumping sequence which allows the Ace packet to remain on the table throughout the whole routine, and never come in contact with the deck. Meh, I may use it, may not... we'll see. :wink:
Throughout the night, Joel performed an effect for Josh that completely blew Josh's mind twice, and Josh was begging Joel to teach it to him the whole night. The effect was that Joel held the pack at his extreme fingertips with his head turned, and riffled through the pack, asking Josh to say stop whenever he wants and peek at that card. The deck is immediately handed to the Josh to be shuffled and then, only then, does Joel turn around. This was also a shuffled, borrowed deck.
Josh thought the method to this was very disappointing, but I did not. No, it's not right for most situations, and I'll probably only use it once or twice in my life, but it's completely sleight-less, and appears completely amazing to the spectator. Not disappointing to me at all..."Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it."
Joel's strange Pass is great in the fact that you can show the top and bottom card without revealing the card's location. The bottom card doesn't change, either. This is all done as the pack is raised to chest height and the deck is spread for the spectator to see the top and bottom card.
I don't like this sleight, and at first I thought it was going to be a rip-off of Gregory Wilson's Backstage Pass, but it is not. It is extremely angle sensitive, and I just don't think it would work very well in a real world situation. But, as with all magic products, I'm sure someone somewhere will get some use out of it.
I'm not going to go too in depth on this, but the basic effect is that a selected card is rubbed under the hand, it disappears, and is found face up in a face down deck. I really like this, and I think it is far superior to the standard Rub-a-Dub Vanish. The reappearance really adds something, and there is a certain "illusion" during the vanish that causes the spectator to think you didn't do what you really did do. Hard to explain, but let's just leave it at this: it's awesome.
This is more than a "moment" than a stunt or effect, really, but basically Josh looked down and saw the deck floating two inches about Joel's hand.
It was Hover, and it was one of the first things that Joel invented. It is pretty angle sensitive, but I think it can be very shocking if performed right. It uses no gimmicks, and can be done with a borrowed deck.
This is one of Joel's effects, but Josh performs it for Joel. The basic idea is that you take the deck, rest it on your hand, and it stays balanced there. Once again, basically impromptu, can be done with a borrowed deck, no gimmicks, and is pretty shocking. I think this would be good if it was done right before Hover, but I haven't tried it. I almost forgot to mention... this is slightly angle sensitive.
Bottom Deal Crimp-
This is a pretty neat move in which you Crimp a card in the midst of a Bottom Deal, giving you something to use when you need a key card but you can't find the misdirection to glimpse something. I'm no good at a bottom deal, so I can't use it right now, but if I were Bottom Deal-savvy, I could definitely see me using this.
Uncrossed Cross Cut-
This is just Joel's version of the Cross Cut Force, and I don't know if I like it or not. I guess I'll just have to try it out and see how it goes.
New Way Pop-
This move is a method of producing a card as the deck is bridged after a shuffle. Pretty neat, but, once again, I don't know if I'm gonna use it or not.
Ez Color Change-
Josh selects a card and returns it to the deck. Joel runs through the deck, and out jogs the card he believes to be Josh's card. However, he is wrong for once. So he brings the whole deck close to his face, card still out jogged, and blows on it. He then turns around the deck to show that the card has actually changed into the selection.
I like this Color Change, but, like a lot of the stuff in this book, it is slightly angle sensitive. However, just like the name says, it is easy to perform, and probably won't take that long to get down.
Ez Change Aces-
This is an effect utilizing the Ez Color Change in which the four Aces turn into the four Kings. I really don't care for this, and it's just one of those effects that Josh and Joel came up with while sitting there.
Quadruple Open Prediction-
I'm not going to explain this effect, but let's just say it's one of the most powerful effects in the book... and it's also the only one that's not explained. I was disappointed, but I liked the ending.
I am really, really happy that I got this book for Christmas... I don't know how I lived without it. It has great, original material that, while it's not suitable for every occasion, each effect has at least one situation it's almost perfect for. Definitely my favorite magic book so far... highly entertaining, with great magic! What more could you want?
9.5/10"Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it."
Drew, how long did this take you? Its probably longer than akirafist's review on FREAKEY.Johnlawl
- Join Date
- Sep 2007
Amazing review, thanks for taking the time and effort to do so. I'm thinking about picking up this book myself. Thanks again.
And is this book better than TOOC?Johnlawl
Yes, anyone considering this book should definitely pick this up, it's great. JPD- it took me about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to complete. TOOC? Forgive my stupidity, but which book is that?"Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it."
TOOC is totally out of Control by Chris Kenner, and Session is amazing. I bought the limited edition one. And it and Five forty seven are amazing books. The format is what is special. The storyline makes it so much easier to read.
I don't have TOOC... I wish I did, but I don't yet. I agree, having a story built in makes it more fun, and therefore easier to read."Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it."