Very Hush-Hush by John Bannon
Review by Michael Close
John Bannon is a prolific creator of high-quality magic (emphasis on card magic). His published works include Impossibilia, Smoke & Mirrors, Dear Mr. Fantasy, High Caliber, Destination Zero, and Mentalissimo. In cooperation with Big Blind Media he has produced several DVDs, including Move Zero, a four-DVD set focusing on self-working card magic. He also contributes a regular card column, “Dealing with It,” for Genii.
John’s new book, Very Hush-hush, follows a similar course to Mentalissimo: mentalism and mental magic with cards, with methods that require little or no digital dexterity. In a moment I’ll give an overview of what you’ll find in Very Hush-hush, but if you’re a Bannon fan, you’ll need no urging from me to pick up this book when it becomes available.
The book is in five large sections. The first section, “Parts of the Sum,” begins with a deep dive into Magic Square effects using playing cards. In the first two effects, Cloud Nine and Psympathetic, John has increased the commerciality of the routines by using a three-by-three Magic Square (rather than a four-by-four) and the revelation of the square (and its properties) comes as a surprise, rather than a pre-announced goal. Additudinal and London Calling utilize the principle of Jack London’s Almost Real Prediction without any of the mental headaches Jack’s original method required. Sum Kind of Wonderful combines the method of Larry Becker’s Sum Total with the one-ahead principle to predict a six-digit number created by the spectator. Again, very little mental dexterity is needed. Sweet Sixteen uses the same procedure to “predict” a four-by-four Magic Square that adds up to a freely selected number. The chapter concludes with Prime Directive, a Magic Square effect that doesn’t use numbers (no kidding)!
Section Two, “Karmaholic,” features ten impossible-location effects. In all of these, the underlying methodology is well concealed, and none of them are difficult. Even better, quite a few of these can be done over Zoom; with the uncertainty of how long in-person gatherings will continue due to new varieties of the Covid virus, it’s good to have several effects of this caliber in your repertoire.
Section Three, “Ghost in the Machine,” contains ten prediction effects that combine simple equivoque with clever multiple revelation procedures. Those of you who do memdeck work should pay particular attention to John’s Vicinity Switch. It will be a valuable addition to your Riffing toolbox. In Prophet Margin, John combines the Vicinity Switch with the Bill Simon Business Card Prophecy move; don’t pass this by without trying it. One of my favorite effects of this section, Swindelicious, uses the Paul Curry Swindle Switch procedure in an absolutely devious way. Laymen don’t stand a chance with this routine; it might also fool your magic pals. Stone Soul Picnic and Liars Al Fresco take the venerable Poker Players’ Picnic and turn it on its head – very, very clever.
Section Four has six routines with a prediction theme. The first, Double-Barreled, uses a U.F. Grant non-card principle in a way I’ve not seen utilized before to produce a double prediction. The routines in this section involve some low-level sleight of hand, but nothing that you won’t get under your fingers in a day or two, even if sleight of hand isn’t your thing.
Section Five, Singularities, has four performance pieces and a useful move (the Las Cruces Force). The routines are baffling and memorable. Take the time to work through them (OMG Super Morigami! is a favorite).
As I mentioned to John in my interview with him (see page XX), I regularly use several of his self-working routines when I’m asked to do magic in an impromptu setting. I know I’ll be adding routines from the new book to that set list. Squash Publishing is releasing the book, which, at the time of this writing, is en route from China. It should be available shortly; check the Squash website for ordering information.
Very Hush-hush is another winner from John Bannon. For those of you looking for baffling routines that won’t bust your chops, or for lovers of elegantly constructed card magic, this book is a must-buy. Highly recommended.